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Kwely, an Africa-based B2B marketplace, has raised closed to $1 million seed round funding. This, says the company, enables it to “redefine the perception of African products and the way African buyers and sellers transact with each other and the world.”
In a media release, the Senegal-based start-up confirms that it raised an additional $700 000 in its series seed from WIC Capital, Loftyinc Capital, Haskè Ventures and other notable investors, completing its $1 million round.
Birame N. Sock, founder and chief executive at Kwely, says, “We have seen the impact Alibaba has had on the informal industrial sector in China and believe that there is an opportunity in economies that are still driven by small businesses operating at the artisan level, to make Africa a major sourcing destination for international buyers.”
In support of its distribution strategy, from brand development to packaging, Kwely currently works closely with local companies to make sure their products are export ready.
“The range of services offered by Kwely perfectly aligns with WIC Capital’s long-standing effort to foster the development of high-growth women-led SMEs. Efficient packaging has always been the missing link preventing our local producers from exporting and scaling their businesses to capture extra-continental markets,” says Evelyne Dioh, chief executive of WIC Gestion managing WIC Capital.
Brand-new packaging services facility
As the company prepares to launch its digital platform and bring to market the various brands in its portfolio, this new round of funding will be used to support Kwely’s marketing and distribution efforts. Among other strategic priorities, a packaging services facility will be implemented and launched.
“At Haskè Ventures, we believe that Kwely’s work is going to be a game-changer for all things Made-in-Africa and the global distribution of products at-scale. Kwely is the first African startup to provide enhanced product design and distribution services to local companies.
“We believe that Kwely’s digitally enabled B2B platform is the missing link to unleash distribution based on global norms and standards,” says Abdourahmane Diop, chief executive at Haskè Ventures.
“We have been impressed with what the company has accomplished so far. As investors focused on the future of Africa, we believe Kwely has a critical role to play in fulfilling wholesale orders through collective production across suppliers. We look forward to further partnering with Birame and her team on this exciting new phase of their growth”, adds Idris Ayodeji Bello, founding partner at LoftyInc Capital and Afropreneur Angels.
Started in early 2020, Kwely has developed an MVP for its technology platform and validated over 200 products that are locally produced. Through its distribution platform, Kwely aims to position high-quality Made In Africa products on the shelves and counters of major international retailers, hotels, airports, specialty stores and restaurants.
In April 2021, the company launched its first edition of the TEKKI Challenge in Senegal where ten local food and cosmetics brands received branding, packaging, and access to market support. Since then, Kwely has worked with these companies to co-develop Made-in-Africa brands which are ready for export and meet international standards.
The company is preparing to launch its packaging studio which will offer filling, packaging, labeling and distribution services with a high standard of quality and adherence to global requirements such as the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and other international Consumer Packaged Goods standardisation agencies and certification bodies.