Nairobi-based MarketForce, a B2B platform for retail distribution of consumer goods and digital financial services in Africa, has closed a $40 million Series A round. Coming just seven months after concluding a pre-Series A round, this is the largest Series A round of its kind in East and Central Africa, it comes just seven months after concluding a pre-Series A round.
The round was led by London and Lagos-based V8 Capital Partners with participation from Ten13 VC, SOSV Select Fund, Vu Ventures, Vastly Valuable Ventures and Uncovered Fund. Also participating were existing investors Reflect Ventures, Greenhouse Capital, Century Oak Capital and Remapped Ventures. Co-founder and former CEO of Cellulant, Ken Njoroge, also participated in the round and joined the board as Chairman.
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“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. We are proud to partner with Tesh and Mesongo in accelerating the digitisation of the African retail ecosystem which will help improve the lives of millions of informal african merchants,” said Tobi Oke, General Partner at V8 Capital and member of the MarketForce board.
In sub-Saharan Africa, approximately 90% of household retail transactions are in cash, and delivered through a network of about 100 million MSMEs. Retail payments on the continent are expected to top $2.1 trillion by 2025.
MarketForce was co-founded by Tesh Mbaabu and Mesongo Sibuti in 2018 and aims to empower informal merchants in Africa with the ability to order, pay and receive 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.
One year ago, MarketForce served about 5,000 customers but that figure has now grown to 100,000 merchants, processing 6,000 daily transactions, with the average transaction size tripling and revenue growing twenty-seven times over the same period.
Consumer brands and financial service providers such as Nestle, Pepsi, Flour Mills of Nigeria, Bidco Africa, Chandaria Industries, Kapa Oil, Safaricom, Cellulant, Lami and Pezesha are some of MarketForce’s partners on the supplier side who benefit from the company’s real-time market intelligence dashboards.
With this round of funding, MarketForce plans to scale merchant inventory financing through a BNPL offering, grow deeper in existing markets and make more digital financial and banking services available through its extensive merchant network. The company also intends to double its team of 400 before the end of the year.
“Our goal is to be the ultimate partner for informal merchants, empowering them to maximise their profits and grow in a digital age by getting 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,” said Tesh Mbaabu, Cofounder and CEO of MarketForce. “We are targeting to serve over 1 million active merchants on our platform in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2025.”
Featured image: MarketForce