Marketforce, a Kenyan-based retail distribution startup, has closed its series A funding round, raising $40 million from several investors.
The B2B platform which facilitates the distribution of consumer goods, and digital financial service, said it would use the funds to improve on its merchant inventory financing – through a BNPL (buy now, pay later) offering.
The startup would also use the funds to grow deeper into existing markets, and provide more digital financial, and banking services, through its extensive merchant network.
The investment round, which was a combination of debt and equity, was led by V8 Capital Partners, a London and Lagos-based African-focused investment firm.
Further participations came from investors like Ten13 VC, SOSV Select Fund, VU Venture Partners, Vastly Valuable Ventures and Uncovered Fund.
The fundraise also had existing investors like Reflect Ventures, Greenhouse Capital, Century Oak Capital and Remapped Ventures, participating. Cellulant co-founder Ken Njoroge, who joins the MarketForce board as chairman, also took part in the round.
Marketforce began operations in 2018, covering Kenya and Nigeria, and later expanded to countries like Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania. It was co-founded by Tesh Mbaabu and Mesongo Sibuti.
The startup, through its RejaReja platform, empowers informal merchants in Africa to source, order and pay for inventory digitally and conveniently, access financing, collect digital payments and make extra money by reselling digital financial services such as airtime, electricity tokens and bill payments.
“Our mission is to enable SMEs to grow, and what we’ve realized over time is that offering them loans is great, but that we need to empower them to access goods. And that’s why we’ve introduced this merchant inventory financing, which is like an overdraft facility, where they’re able to order goods and pay later after selling them. We started a pilot and it is going well,” Tesh Mbaabu, MarketForce CEO and co-founder, told TechCrunch.
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Speaking on the fundraise, Tobi Oke, general partner at V8 Capital, and member of the MarketForce board, said:
“MarketForce demonstrates what we see as a triple threat with regards to returns. A strong executive team with an amazing track record, an expansive untapped market of informal retailers across the continent and a business model that scales extremely quickly.”
MarketForce plans to double its team to 800, and grow the number of merchants using the RejaReja to 250,000 over the next few months.