Kenyan retail-tech startup MarketForce has formalised its Troops project into a B2B wholesale e-commerce marketplace, which will leverage on gig workers for order collection and fulfilment but will also allow retailers to self-serve through a website and mobile app.
Launched in 2018, MarketForce enables consumer brands to optimise how they deliver essential goods and services to retailers and consumers by bridging the information gap in last mile distribution, while maximising efficiency across the sales and distribution value chain.
The startup’s platform leverages mobile devices by enabling field agents to record all customer interactions as they happen in the field, and then aggregates this data and presents it through live web dashboards.
Disrupt Africa reported in May that MarketForce had raised US$350,000 in seed funding to help it build upon its existing momentum and enhance its product to unlock new revenue streams, the funding coming from the ViKtoria Business Angels Network (VBAN), EchoVC Partners, P1 Ventures, and Ventures Platform.
In August it secured an extra US$150,000 after being selected for the Silicon Valley-based Y Combinator accelerator. At the same time it announced the launch of a new business line, MarketForce Troops, which enables FMCGs and financial service providers to grow their retail distribution channels in Africa by leveraging a community of crowd-sourced youth sales agents.
In the months since, those agents have collected over 20,000 orders from retailers across Nairobi at the shop level, receiving payment through commissions once orders are fulfilled by partner distributors through fulfilment agents.
Following this successful pilot in Nairobi, MarketForce has now expanded the service into a B2B wholesale e-commerce marketplace, which it has rebranded as RejaReja. This creates a new self-service channel for shop owners to source and re-stock the inventory they need, and get it delivered directly to their store from the nearest distributor, within hours.
The startup is also granting them working credit, and intends to roll out the service in more locations in 2021, while introducing more value added services to help retailers grow their revenue streams and margins through working with strategic partners.