Kenya’s MarketForce raises $40m Series A round to scale its merchant super app

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Kenyan startup MarketForce, a B2B platform for retail distribution of consumer goods and digital financial services, has closed a US$40 million Series A round to scale its merchant super app, RejaReja, across the continent.

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.

Its merchant super app RejaReja, which offers informal merchants next-day delivery for hundreds of SKUs from the leading FMCG brands, has onboarded over 100,000 merchants so far, and is operational in five African markets.

The YC-backed MarketForce raised over US$2 million in pre-Series A funding last year, and has followed that up within seven months with a US$40 million Series A. The round was led by V8 Capital Partners, a London and Lagos-based African-focused investment vehicle, with participation from Ten13 VC, SOSV Select Fund, Vu Ventures and Vastly Valuable Ventures.

It also features a number of existing investors, such as Reflect Ventures, Greenhouse Capital, Century Oak Capital and Remapped Ventures, while Ken Njoroge, co-founder and former CEO of Kenyan fintech company Cellulant, also participated in the round and joins the board as chairman. The round is a combination of debt and equity.

With this round of funding, MarketForce plans to scale merchant inventory financing through a BNPL offering, grow deeper in existing markets, and avail more digital financial and banking services through its extensive merchant network. MarketForce has a team of 400 and intends to double its size before the end of the year.

“Our goal is be the ultimate partner for informal merchants, empowering them to maximise their profits and grow in a digital age by getting better service, assortment, and access to new revenue opportunities, outfitting them with the technology and support they need to transform themselves from simple FMCG outlets to comprehensive financial service hubs for the continent’s last-mile communities,” said Mbaabu.

“We are targeting to serve over one million active merchants on our platform in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2025.” 

Tobi Oke, general partner at V8 Capital, said the MarketForce team had demonstrated its ability to build a differentiated, powerful and all-inclusive digital commerce platform for merchants in Africa. 

“We are proud to partner and build the future of retail in Africa by helping to optimise supply chains and catalyse the digitisation of the African retail ecosystem, which holds a lot of untapped potential to improve incomes and enable millions of African merchants to grow their businesses,” 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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