Kenya’s Sokowatch to expand after revenue growth

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Kenyan startup Sokowatch, a mobile-based ordering and delivery network for small shops, has revealed plans to expand to Mombasa in the third quarter of this year and other East African markets after that after seeing strong revenue growth.

Launched in 2013, Sokowatch supplies thousands of shops with goods from different multinational companies, increasing the availability of everyday consumer goods by allowing small shops to place orders at any time via SMS.

These orders are then processed through Sokowatch’s system to notify nearby delivery agents, who then deliver the requested orders to shops within 24 hours. The startup received strategic investment from Chandaria Industries last year, and also took part in the World Bank’s XL Africa accelerator programme.

Sokowatch made over US$80,000 in sales for January, meaning it has kicked off 2018 with an annualised revenue rate of over US$1 million. This represents a more than five-fold increase in monthly sales from January 2017.

Chief executive officer (CEO) Daniel Yu said he expected to see a similarly rapid rate of growth in 2018, which includes a planned expansion to Mombasa, Kenya in the third quarter of the year and other markets in East Africa in the fourth quarter and early in 2019. It has been active in Tanzania since the beginning of last year.

“Sokowatch’s progress over the past year is entirely due to the hard work and dedication of its team members, particularly its field operations in Nairobi and new office in Dar es Salaam. Despite challenges in early 2017 around standardising our operations and extensive disruption in the second half of the year due to political turmoil in Kenya, Sokowatch has demonstrated the need for its services and enormous potential for growth in its markets,” Yu said.

The startup has also launched its Retailer App in order to support the rapidly growing number of users that have smartphones. Sokowatch has begun piloting an Android application that allows its retail customers to place orders through an interface featuring product images, delivery time selection, and order history.

Future versions of the app will potentially include the ability to order goods on credit, notifications for discounts, and personalised analytics for improved business management.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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