17th August 2021
E-commerce start-up Haru has secured just under half a million pounds of investment 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.
Belfast-based Haru offers charities and brands a complete online selling service. Its 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 SamLynas first started selling second-hand clothing while at school together as a passion project. After founding Haru two years ago, the pair have attracted attention from local investors with their ambitious expansion plans.
Co-founder Jacques Hill said: “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. 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 Lynas, co-founder at Haru 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.”
Claudine Owens, HBAN Ulster Coordinator Region and Investment Manager for Co Fund NI said: “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. It’s great to see the variety of businesses that appeal to our HBAN angels and the level of investment and commitment they bring to the start-up companies like Haru. We are always keen to welcome new members and to engage with companies that wish to seek investment from business angels.”
Chris Trotter, Investment Manager for Co Fund NI said: “The team at Haru is ambitious, they’ve achieved a lot already in these first two years. Ecommerce plays a prominent role in our daily lives, and many consumers now want a sustainable retail option online. We’re pleased to work with the team and excited to see what the future will bring.”
Michael Harding, HBAN angel investor added: “Having 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. 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. Sam and Jacques have found a unique solution and have all the drive and ambition to turn Haru into a world leader supporting global charities and retail sustainability. I look forward to working with Haru on this exiting business opportunity.”
Co-Fund NI is part of Invest NI’s Access to Finance portfolio and part funded by European Regional Development Fund under the EU Investment for Growth and Jobs Programme 2014-2020. Clarendon Fund Managers manages Co-Fund NI.
CEIF is a £5m fund that was launched by Invest Northern Ireland as part of its Access to Finance portfolio. It has helped qualifying early stage high-growth potential businesses in Northern Ireland access financing to progress their business plans and prepare for recovery from the effects of the pandemic and future growth. HBAN is a joint initiative of Enterprise Ireland, InterTradeIreland and Invest NI dedicated to the all-island promotion of business angel investment.