Sokowatch, Kenyan B2B e-commerce retail tech startup raises US$14 million in a Series A funding round to enable it to expand its operations across Africa.
Sokowatch, seeing how massive, informal and so fragmented the African commerce space is, seeks to be the go-to platform for millions of informal retail shops scattered across Africa.
It has been estimated that there are over 10 million informal shops across Africa selling over US$180 billion worth of goods every year. Sokowatch is so positioned to enable these informal retailers to order for products at any time via SMS or mobile app and receive free same-day delivery to their stores. The startup is also offering financial services and cutting-edge technology business management tools so that these informal shops can find business management easier.
The startup, apart from offering soft loans and grants to these informal shop owners also offers personalized promotions and business insights to individual retailers. The startup’s systems track real-time sales and orders across thousands of stores. Sokowatch is indeed a perfect replica of Alibaba in China.
“Currently, e-commerce in Africa is focused on reaching consumers directly,” said Sokowatch founder and group chief executive officer (CEO) Daniel Yu. “But the vast majority of the population can’t access it. Instead of creating an online platform which sells to a small audience of wealthy digital shoppers, we focus on empowering informal retailers. We reach millions of average consumers in the process.”
The US$14 million raising isbeing led by Quona Capital with support from other venture capital firms like Amplo, Breyer Capital, Vertex, etc, all to enable Sokowatch expand to more cities in East Africa like Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, etc. So far, the startup has delivered 500,000 orders to over 15,000 retail shops across East Africa while it continues to grow rapidly.
The B2B model of e-commerce of the startup has been massively welcomed in Africa as in less than two years, the startup has jumped from Nairobi to three other cities in Kenya and still finding it’s way to Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, etc.
Quona Capital co-founder and partner Monica Brand Engel believes that the B2B e-commerce model of the startup will no doubt work well in Africa at large because of the need to serve the millions of fragmented shops in the continent.
“Sokowatch is addressing the massive challenge of last mile delivery to informal retailers and doing so with impressive unit economics, fit-for-purpose financing, and a growth-with-quality discipline,” she said.