Kenyan startup MarketForce, an end-to-end retail distribution platform for consumer brands, has announced the strategic acquisition of Digiduka, which aims to bring informal retailers in Africa into the digital economy.
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 of last year that MarketForce had raised US$350,000 in seed funding to help it build upon its existing momentum, and in December it launched a B2B wholesale e-commerce marketplace named RejaReja. RejaReja has so far served over 12,000 informal retailers in Kenya, fulfilling over 75,000 orders.
Digiduka, meanwhile, was formed and funded during the inaugural cohort of the Antler programme in Nairobi. The platform works with similar informal retailers by enabling them to make extra money by reselling digital services such as airtime, electricity tokens and bill payments. Digiduka has since acquired over 6,800 merchants across several major Kenyan towns, and is on track to triple its user base and process in excess of US$5 million in transactions through its platform in 2021.
The acquisition of Digiduka by MarketForce will see the two startups combine their offerings in search of quicker scale. The deal accelerates the integration of financial services into RejaReja and consolidates two businesses that share a common goal of providing an all-inclusive digital commerce platform for informal retailers in Africa. The entire Digiduka team joins MarketForce.
“Our team is excited to join forces with MarketForce and go after this US$700 billion market opportunity together. Despite the seeming runaway success of mobile money in Kenya, a huge 92 per cent of retail payments for daily expenses are still made in cash, among informal retailers and low-income consumers. The opportunity to digitise a large portion of this transactions and extend working capital to these retailers is also largely untapped due to the perceived risk that MarketForce resolves through having reliable data on re-stocking patterns at the retail level,” said Roy Njoka, co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Digiduka.
Tesh Mbaabu, co-founder and CEO of MarketForce, said the two teams shared a vision and values.
“Acquiring Digiduka instead of competing with them just makes sense. It’s all about two solid teams coming together to create a massive impact in African retail. This is a case where one plus one is equal to five,” he said.
“This is a powerful fintech step forward for MarketForce as we plan to empower retailers even further, by enabling them to act as a one-stop shop for even more financial services like insurance and banking services in Kenya and other markets. Enabling them to upsell such services drastically increases retailer earnings while solving the last-mile distribution challenge and driving financial inclusion for millions of Africans.”