Indonesian online marketplace Qlapa shuts down

A marketplace for authentic handicrafts bites the dust.

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Indonesian online marketplace Qlapa shuts down

With 143 million internet users in the country and a 44% penetration rate for mobile internet usage, Indonesia is a crucial market for e-commerce in Southeast Asia. Major virtual marketplaces like Tokopedia and Bukalapak are growing at a rapid pace, and success is far from guaranteed for smaller startups in the industry. The latest casualty is Qlapa, which specifically sold local handicraft products. Today, it announced the closure of its business after fewer than four years of operation.

In a note posted on the company’s website, Qlapa’s management wrote, “Looking back, we are grateful to have made this extraordinary journey. Unfortunately for us, this romantic trip must end. We cannot make Qlapa a profitable and sustainable business.” No further details related to the company’s termination of services have been provided.

Qlapa was founded in November 2015 by Benny Fajarai, who aimed to promote authentic Indonesian crafts made by local artisans, introducing them to a wider market with the help of technology. Because of that agenda, the company quickly found its accolades. The Qlapa mobile application was called a “Hidden Gem” in Google Play. The company was also labelled as one of the most promising startups by Forbes Asia magazine. Fajarai himself was named as one of Forbes Asia’s “30 Under 30”.

Throughout its operation, Qlapa channelled billions of rupiahs to the thousands of small and medium enterprises that were merchants on the platform.

According to Crunchbase, Qlapa had undergone two rounds of fundraising. Its seed round took place in 2016, with Prasetia Dwidharma and Global Founders Capital pitching in. The following year, Aavishkaar Venture Capital and Indonesian media giant Kapan Lagi Networks participated in its Series A round.

Researchers at McKinsey & Company suggest that online sales of physical goods in Indonesia are projected to reach US$65 billion annually by 2022, signalling huge opportunities within the e-commerce sector.

Editor: Brady Ng