Belfast e-commerce start-up Haru raises £450,000

29 Jun 2021

Michael Harding, Jacques Hill, Claudine Owens, Sam Lynas and Chris Trotter. Image: Haru

The start-up helps charity shops and brands to sell second-hand goods online and is aiming to reach 400 stores by year’s end.

Belfast e-commerce start-up Haru has raised £450,000 in a new funding round to help charities sell online.

Haru provides charities a platform to sell and process orders online to help boost their revenues without the large investment that e-commerce typically requires. It is also used by brands to accept and re-sell goods while providing consumers with greater access to second-hand shopping.

The funding comes from the Covid-19 Equity Investment Fund (CEIF), a £5m fund from Invest Northern Ireland as part of the Access to Finance initiative to support pandemic recovery. Co Fund NI and Halo Business Angel Network’s Ulster network also took part in the investment.

Haru has more than 115 charity shops in the UK using its platform. It is targeting 400 shops by the end of the year.

The start-up was founded by Jacques Hill and Sam Lynas two years ago.

Lynas said that Haru was founded on the idea of helping charity shops navigate the e-commerce world while providing “consumers with a fair choice of quality, sustainable products without having to comprise on price”.

“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,” Hill added. “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.”

According to Claudine Owens, of HBAN Ulster and investment manager for Co Fund NI, the charity sector has annual revenues of £1.5bn.

“This is why Haru has caught the attention of investors. It is a much-needed smart alternative for sustainable living,” she said.

“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,” angel investor Michael Harding added.

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin