Sustainable NI ecommerce start-up secures £450k funding

  • Belfast-based e-commerce start-up, Haru has secured just under half a million pounds of investment for its platform, which offers a complete online selling service for charities and brands.

    Haru's platform is the first of its kind to provide an end-to-end service developing new technology to pick-up, process, store and sell high volumes of second-hand clothing and books.

    Their service enables clothing brands to accept and resell pre-loved products, while giving charities an online selling option with little effort or investment.

    Currently, Haru has over 115 charity shops from across the UK registered on the platform and expects that number to increase to 400 by the end of 2021.

    Co-founders Jacques Hill and Sam Lynas first started selling second-hand clothing while at school together as a passion project.

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    After founding Haru two years ago, the pair have attracted attention from local investors with their ambitious expansion plans.

    “Although 2020 was not an easy time to raise funds, it did solidify the importance of our offering as more consumers than ever turned to online shopping," said Jacques.

    "We are also seeing more shoppers than ever looking for a sustainable option and our service gives charities and brands the opportunity to provide that option.”

    Sam added: “We began by thinking how we could help charity shops sell online, while growing the second-hand market. We want to provide consumers with a fair choice of quality, sustainable products without having to comprise on price.

    "We’re really excited to see where this funding can take us and we’re grateful to the investors at HBAN and the team at Co Fund NI who have recognised the growth potential in Haru.”

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    The investment came from the COVID-19 Equity Investment Fund (CEIF), Co Fund NI, part of Invest Northern Ireland’s Access to Finance portfolio, and private investors through the Halo & Business Angel Network (HBAN) Ulster Network.

    Claudine Owens, Investment Manager for Co Fund NI noted that “the charity sector turns over annual revenues of £1.5bn, so it’s an untapped market in a climate which is crying out for more sustainable options."

    "This is why Haru has caught the attention of investors, it is a much-needed smart alternative for sustainable living," she continued.

    Michael Harding, one of the HBAN angel investors worked as a volunteer in Oxfam’s charity shop in the past.

    "I noticed that there were many missed opportunities for charities to generate essential revenue from items sold due to inexperience in pricing," he commented. 

    "Haru will not only allow shops to price correctly but also create a global shop window for these items through the likes of Amazon and Ebay in addition to the Haru marketplace. Also, the resale of these items supports the growing sustainable living movement in fashion and goods by reusing items and providing great value for the consumer."

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    Find out more about Haru here.

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