Kenyan startup Sokowatch, a B2B e-commerce platform supplying informal African retail stores, has expanded into Rwanda and Uganda after securing a further tranche of seed funding worth US$2.5 million in February.
Launched in 2016, Sokowatch allows storeowners to order fast-moving consumer goods at any time through SMS or mobile app for same-day delivery. It has already delivered over 500,000 orders to over 10,000 retail shops across Kenya and Tanzania, and has been growing rapidly over the last 12 months.
The startup raised a US$2 million seed round led by 4DX Ventures last July, and in February took in a second US$2.5 million tranche of seed funding after beating performance targets for 2018. The oversubscribed round included follow-on investment from all major existing shareholders, along with a handful of new investors including Breyer Labs, the investment arm of Breyer Capital, and Helios Investments managing partner Babatunde Soyoye.
On the back of this funding and its growth, Sokowatch has now announced its expansion to Kigali, Rwanda, and Kampala, Uganda, as well as the Kenyan cities of Mombasa and Nakuru.
“The expansion to new cities and countries across East Africa validates the scalability of Sokowatch’s model,” said Sokowatch founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Daniel Yu, who said the current focus on consumer-facing e-commerce on the continent was not accessible by the vast majority of the population.
“Over 90 per cent of all retail transactions are made with informal retailers, at an average transaction size of less than US$0.50. Instead of creating an online platform to sell to a small audience of wealthy digital shoppers, we focus on empowering informal retailers, reaching millions of average consumers in the process,” Yu said.
“Interestingly we find that our customers in markets outside of Nairobi are actually adopting our services faster and order more on average. This supports our belief that our model can be successful in transforming informal businesses all across the continent, even outside tech-focused cities.”