Kenyan B2B retail end-to-end distribution platform startup Marketforce has secured US$2 million Pre-Series A funding to
Existing investors – P1 Ventures and Y Combinator took part in the round and they were joined by Launch Africa, V8 Capital, Future Africa, GreenHouse Capital, Rebel Fund, Remapped Ventures, and some unnamed angel investors.
In sub-Saharan Africa, approximately 90% of household retail transactions are in cash, and delivered through a network of about 100 million MSMEs, with 42 million in Nigeria alone. Retail payments on the continent are expected to top $2.1 trillion by 2025, and MarketForce aims to digitize a large portion of these offline transactions.
Co-founded in 2018 by Tesh Mbaabu and Mesongo Sibuti, MarketForce uniquely combines a field sales automation SaaS solution with its “RejaReja” B2B marketplace to digitize how informal retail merchants buy and sell FMCGs and digital financial services.
RejaReja helps these corner shops, commonly referred to as ‘dukas’ in Kenya, get better service, assortment, and access to new revenue opportunities, outfitting them with the technology and support they need to transform themselves from simple FMCG outlets to comprehensive financial service hubs for the continent’s last-mile communities.
Currently available in Kenya, RejaReja offers informal retailers next-day delivery for hundreds of SKUs from the leading FMCG brands.
Last month, MarketForce announced the strategic acquisition of Digiduka, which was formed and funded during the inaugural cohort of the Antler programme in Nairobi.
This was a huge Fintech step forward as RejaReja now provides a wallet that allows retailers to collect mobile money and bank payments via mobile app, WhatsApp bot, or USSD shortcode, eliminating the high mobile money transaction fees and enabling merchants to accept digital payments, access working credit and earn more by acting as distribution agents for popular financial services such as airtime, bills, utilities, and even insurance.
With this round of funding, MarketForce plans to launch in Nigeria and to scale up RejaReja to more towns in East Africa.
“We are seeing significant demand for our radically improved way for companies to distribute their goods and services in Africa, and we’re thrilled to get a boost from returning and new investors at this crucial time,” said Tesh Mbaabu, Cofounder and CEO of MarketForce. “The combination of our technology with the offline distribution network that we are building is essential to creating maximum output and impact in African retail distribution. Our goal is to create income growth opportunities for a million retailers and independent sales agents across Africa within the next five years.”
MarketForce clients are able to gain access to both their software and the RejaReja marketplace, which has garnered over 15,000 retail customers, processing thousands of orders daily, and we are experiencing double-digit revenue growth month over month.
The MarketForce SaaS product on the other hand has garnered over 10,000 monthly active users, with over 300,000 transactions worth over US$500 million processed to date through the platform in 3 key markets; Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. Clients and partners include Safaricom, Pepsi, Grain Industries, Fort Beverages, Madison Insurance, Platinum Credit, Momentum Credit, Letshego, Pezesha, and Lami.
“We are glad to be backing MarketForce in this round of funding, given their ability to build a differentiated, powerful, and all-inclusive digital commerce platform for informal retailers in Africa,” said Tobi Oke, Managing Partner at V8 Capital Partners.
“We are excited to strengthen our partnership with MarketForce,” said Mikael Hajjar, Managing Partner at P1 Ventures. “MarketForce is one of the fastest-growing African leaders in sales and distribution automation technology. We’ve witnessed the pain point that MarketForce’s product addresses and how its customers realize major productivity gains over substitutes.”