Kenyan retail-tech startup MarketForce is expanding into five further markets and targeting one million merchants after securing a partnership with fintech company Cellulant.
Co-founded in 2018 by Tesh Mbaabu and Mesongo Sibuti, MarketForce is a B2B retail marketplace that empowers informal merchants in Africa to source, order and pay for inventory digitally and conveniently, access financing, collect digital payments and make extra money by reselling digital financial services such as airtime, electricity tokens and bill payments.
The YC-backed company, which has over 100,000 merchants onboarded so far, recently raised over US$2 million in pre-Series A funding and expanded into Nigeria in October. It is now adding a further five markets – Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, Rwanda and Ethiopia – via a partnership with another Kenyan company, Cellulant, a leading pan-African payments company that provides locally relevant and alternative payment methods for global, regional and local merchants.
Founded in 2004, Cellulant has an office presence in 18 African countries with a payments platform connecting thousands of businesses. The platform powers payments for 220 million consumers on a single inclusive network allowing for interoperability across Africa.
MarketForce and Cellulant are collaborating to offer additional revenue opportunities for informal retailers through empowering them to be agents for major financial services, as well as access payments, savings, investments, insurance and buy-now-pay-later products. The integration will help MSMEs fully leverage the power of mobile-first financial distribution technology and infrastructure to grow their businesses.
“MarketForce recognises the power of collective action, we are excited to collaborate with like-minded partners like Cellulant, as well as players like Safaricom. It is an opportune time to grow our partnership with Cellulant out of Kenya, where we have already processed millions of transactions in 2021 alone. We have served over 550,000 unique consumers through a network of over 100,000 merchants, across all the major Kenyan towns,” Mbaabu said.
Over the next 12 months, MarketForce will invest in driving expansion into more cities on the continent through recruiting the best people and localising the product and service to fit any new market where it plans to operate.
“We have been piloting this partnership for six months and are happy to announce the plan to extend the fruitful relationship we have built with MarketForce in Kenya, and joining them as they avail the powerful RejaReja platform in six more African countries where Cellulant already has a foot in – Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, Rwanda and Ethiopia. This collaboration will make our digital financial services available to millions of Africans, with the goal of significantly boosting financial inclusion and incomes for merchants across Sub-Saharan Africa,” said David Waithaka, chief business officer at Cellulant.