Startup MarketForce raises US$2m Pre-Series A to scale its B2B retail marketplace

KENYA – MarketForce, a Kenyan B2B retail distribution platform has raised US$2 million Pre-Series A round to launch in Nigeria and to scale up its RejaReja to more towns in East Africa.

The funding was raised from V8 Capital, Future Africa, Greenhouse Capital, Launch Africa, Rebel Fund, Remapped Ventures, and a couple of strategic angel investors as new investors.

Y Combinator and existing investor P1 Ventures also participated in the oversubscribed round.

The raise brings MarketForce’s total funding to date to US$2.5 million after it raised US$350,000 seed round last year and US$150,000 from Y Combinator.

According to Tesh Mbaabu, Co-founder and CEO of MarketForce, “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. 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.”

In June 2021, MarketForce acquired Digiduka, which was formed and funded during the inaugural cohort of the Antler program in Nairobi.

The acquisition aided in its growth of RejaReja which now provides a wallet that allows retailers to collect mobile money and bank payments via mobile app, WhatsApp bot, or USSD short code, 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.

“RejaReja”, urban slang for informal aims to digitize the supply chain processes of informal retail merchants who buy and sell FMCGs and digital financial services.

“Our goal is to create income growth opportunities for a million retailers and independent sales agents across Africa within the next five years”

Tesh Mbaabu – Co-foiunder and CEO, MarketForce

The new platform helps these dukas or corner shops to 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.

In Nigeria, MarketForce will take on SokoWatch and TradeDepot which raised more than US$10 million to continue its integration of the fragmented informal retail supply chain in Nigeria.

TradeDepot will also use the funds to expand into other African cities and launch a suite of financial products and credit facilities, to support its retailers.

Tobi Oke, the managing partner at V8 Capital Partners, said he was glad to be backing MarketForce, citing its ability to build a differentiated, powerful and all-inclusive digital commerce platform for informal retailers in Africa

“Similar to Paystack, another successful African YC company who targets merchants selling online, RejaReja targets the millions of underserved informal merchants who are still offline when it comes to business automation and payments,” he said.

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