Kenya’s MarketForce raises $2m pre-Series A to scale B2B retail marketplace

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Kenyan startup MarketForce, a B2B platform for retail distribution of consumer goods and digital financial services, has announced a US$2 million pre-Series A round to launch in Nigeria and scale its RejaReja platform.

Co-founded in 2018 by Tesh Mbaabu and Mesongo Sibuti, 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 helps corner shops, commonly referred to as “dukas” in Kenya, get better service, assortment, and access to new revenue opportunities.

With this fresh round of funding, which brings total funding to date to US$2.5 million, MarketForce has brought on V8 Capital, Future Africa, GreenHouse Capital, Launch Africa, Rebel Fund, Remapped Ventures and a couple of strategic angel investors on board as new investors. They join Y Combinator and existing investor P1 Ventures, who also participated in the oversubscribed round. 

Last month, MarketForce announced the strategic acquisition of Digiduka, which it says was a “huge fintech step forward” for its RejaReja platform, which now provides a wallet that allows retailers to collect mobile money and bank payments via mobile app, WhatsApp bot or USSD shortcode. The new round of funding will see the startup further develop the platform, and scale it into more towns in East Africa as well as Nigeria.

“We are seeing significant demand for our radically improved way for companies to distribute their goods and services in Africa, and we’re thrilled to get a boost from returning and new investors at this crucial time,” said Mbaabu.

“The combination of our technology with the offline distribution network that we are building is essential to creating maximum output and impact in African retail distribution. Our goal is to create income growth opportunities for a million retailers and independent sales agents across Africa within the next five years.” 

Tobi Oke, managing partner at V8 Capital Partners, said he was glad to be backing MarketForce, citing its ability to build a differentiated, powerful and all-inclusive digital commerce platform for informal retailers in Africa. 

“Similar to Paystack, another successful African YC company who targets merchants selling online, RejaReja targets the millions of underserved informal merchants who are still offline when it comes to business automation and payments,” he said.

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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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