Launched this month, Luntu operates as an e-commerce website, allowing users to add items to cart, make secure payment, and receive delivery to their home address, but also allows people to filter with the Luntu Index, an information card that highlights what social cause a business may have.
Customers can purchase goods from companies that are 100 per cent black-owned, vegan, fair trade, recycled, women-owned, halal, kosher, and sustainable, among other things.
“Our vision for the future is to be the world’s leading mission-driven e-commerce platform,” founder Amahle Ntshinga told Disrupt Africa.
“Our mission is to boost local economic growth, provide better opportunities for marginalised communities, and help the planet by providing shoppers with quick and convenient access to products and services that align to their personal values. Luntu is here to empower shoppers with transparency to use their purchasing power for good, in a quick and convenient way.”
Luntu sells products in a wide array of categories, from sports and outdoor goods like surfboards and skateboards, to eco-friendly clothing brands and organic feminine sanitary products. Ntshinga came up with the idea for the platform while she was doing her postgraduate degree at Wits Business School, and wanted to support local businesses that care about empowering marginalised communities and the planet.
“I quickly realised that finding these businesses was not as convenient as traditional online shopping – which I was a huge proponent of. I decided that there was a gap in the market because people wanted to conveniently support businesses that align to their personal values,” Ntshinga said.
“Globally, there is a rise of conscious consumers; more people want to support businesses that mirror their personal values. However, these very consumers are also time-conscious and want to do everything in the most convenient way possible.”
In a similar way to the nutritional value information table on a food product informs customers what ingredients are in the product and what nutritional value it has, Ntshinga believes Luntu provides the same kind of transparency for the products it sells. Aside from helping conscious consumers, it also helps local businesses grow.
“If there is one black-owned business that sells organic sanitary products in the country, but they are a brick and mortar store in Cape Town, they are missing out on potential sales they could have received from a woman like me who is in Johannesburg and would buy their products,” she said.
The self-funded startup already has dozens of vendors signed up, among them Skin Republic, the largest-selling mask brand in South Africa, and though it delivers only to customers in Johannesburg it aims to be in all the major South African cities by the end of the year. Luntu charges a commission on sales made through its platform.