By David Ingham
New offering is focused on North Africa initially and targets private companies of around half a million dollars in annual turnover.
E-tabadol.com has entered the B2B marketplace fray with a site focused on medium size businesses (around $500,000 in turnover) in North Africa.
The site will cover five purchasing areas — foodstuffs, construction materials, plant machinery, textiles and computers — and will expand its coverage to Egypt next year, followed by Levant and the Gulf later.
At the moment, the Paris-based site doesn't support online transactions but functions more as a meeting place where sellers can post their offers and buyers can put up tenders. Trades can then be performed offline.
CEO Jerome Mendiela says that the ability to complete a deal, pay and arrange transportation online will follow in a year and a half to two years. "By then, the market will be more ready for it," he says.
Mendiela says around 700 companies are now signed up to the service, which went live in September. Companies pay an annual fee of $100 to join the marketplace and then pay an additional $100 when they post a request for materials or goods for sale notice.
A fee of only 0.3% per transaction is charged at this stage because users aren't realising the full benefits of online procurement.
To ensure products bought and sold are of sufficient quality, a deal has been forged with SGS Onsite. This company, which is active around the world, is hired by buyers to carry out quality checks on shipments before they are despatched.
E-tabadol has so far bagged $3 million from an unnamed European VC. Further rounds of VC funding will take place ahead of a planned IPO in 2002. Breakeven is targeted for year three, provided the company achieves planned turnover of $15 million.