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MarketForce secures $2M Pre-Series A round, plans to launch in Nigeria and scale up RejaReja in East Africa

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MarketForce Co-founders, Tesh Mbaabu (Left) and Mesongo Sibuti (Right) (Image & Release: MarketForce)

Kenyan-based MarketForce, a B2B platform for retail distribution of consumer goods and digital financial services in Africa, announces a $2 million Pre-Series A round, bringing total funding to-date to $2.5 million. With this fresh round of funding, MarketForce has brought on V8 Capital, Future Africa, Greenhouse Capital, Launch Africa, Rebel Fund, Remapped Ventures, and a couple of strategic angel investors as new investors. They joined Y Combinator and existing investor P1 Ventures, who also participated in the oversubscribed round.

In sub-Saharan Africa, approximately 90% of household retail transactions are in cash, and delivered through a network of about 100 million MSMEs, with 42 million in Nigeria alone. Retail payments on the continent are expected to top $2.1 trillion by 2025, and MarketForce aims to digitize a large portion of these offline transactions.

Co-founded in 2018 by Tesh Mbaabu and Mesongo Sibuti, MarketForce uniquely combines a field sales automation SaaS solution with it’s “RejaReja” B2B marketplace to digitize how informal retail merchants buy and sell FMCGs and digital financial services. RejaReja helps these corner shops, commonly referred to as ‘dukas’ in Kenya, get 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. Currently available in Kenya, RejaReja offers informal retailers next-day delivery for hundreds of SKUs from the leading FMCG brands.

Last month, MarketForce announced the strategic acquisition of Digiduka, which was formed and funded during the inaugural cohort of the Antler programme in Nairobi. This was a huge fintech step forward as RejaReja now provides a wallet that allows retailers to collect mobile money and bank payments via mobile app, WhatsApp bot or USSD shortcode, eliminating the high mobile money transaction fees and enabling merchants accept digital payments, access working credit and earn more by acting as distribution agents for popular financial services such as airtime, bills, utilities, and even insurance.

With this round of funding, MarketForce plans to launch in Nigeria and to scale up RejaReja to more towns in East Africa.

“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 Tesh Mbaabu, Co-founder and CEO of MarketForce. “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.” 

“Our clients and partners understand MarketForce’s power to increase sales performance and productivity across markets and industries,” said Co-founder and CTO Mesongo. “We are building the operating system for retail distribution in Africa, and we have the right combination of technology and team to make our Pan-African vision a reality.” 

Today, MarketForce clients are able to gain access to both our software and the RejaReja marketplace, which has garnered over 15,000 retail customers, processing thousands of orders daily, and we are experiencing double digit revenue growth month over month. The MarketForce SaaS product on the other hand has garnered over 10,000 monthly active users, with over 300,000 transactions worth over 500 Million USD processed to date through the platform in 3 key markets; Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Clients and partners include Safaricom, Pepsi, Grain Industries, Fort Beverages, Madison Insurance, Platinum Credit, Momentum Credit, Letshego, Pezesha and Lami.

A happy RejaReja customer in Nairobi (MarketForce)

“We are glad to be backing MarketForce in this round of funding, given their 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,” said Tobi Oke, Managing Partner at V8 Capital Partners. 

“We are proud to back MarketForce to build the future of retail in Africa and help catalyze the digitization of the African retail market, which is highly informal, fragmented and undigitized, but holds a lot of untapped potential to improve incomes and enable millions of African retailers to grow their businesses. MarketForce sits in a place that enables them to generate a lot of value and empower every single participant in the massive retail industry,” said Adenike Sheriff, Principal at Future Africa. 

“We are excited to strengthen our partnership with MarketForce,” said Mikael Hajjar, Managing Partner at P1 Ventures. “MarketForce is one of the fastest-growing African leaders in sales and distribution automation technology. We’ve witnessed the pain point that MarketForce’s product addresses and how its customers realize major productivity gains over substitutes.” 

“I have known Mesongo and Tesh for over two years and MarketForce has proven that they know how to leverage the entire retail supply chain as a gateway for digital payments. Their organic as well as acquisition-driven growth & expansion strategy thus far has proven that their understanding of unit economics and marginal customer acquisition costs is solid. As a pan-African fintech company, they are very well positioned to tap into the $700 billion that gets transacted in this space every year,” said Zachariah George, Managing Partner at Launch Africa. 

 

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Wapi Pay secures $2.2 million to expand Africa-Asia trade payments and remittances

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Left: Paul Ndichu Co-Founder, Right: Eddie Ndichu Co-Founder & CEO (Image & Release: Wapi Pay)

Wapi Pay, based in Singapore and headquartered in Kenya has raised $2.2 Million in pre-seed funding to scale up global payments and remittances between Africa and Asia. Making international transfers faster, easier and much cheaper. The investors included EchoVC & China based global fund MSA Capital, who have invested in domestic Asian unicorns such as Meituan and NIO, and international unicorns such as Nubank and Klarna. Additional investors include Kepple Africa Ventures. Existing investors are Future Hub, Gobi Ventures and Transsion Holding.

Eddie Ndichu, co-founder at Wapi Pay commented on this funding milestone: “These funds will help Wapi Pay diversify our products range and drive growth so that we can evolve remittances into real-time global cross-border payments, starting with Africa and Asia. All while minimising the cost of transactions, it needs to be as easy as sending M-PESA”

EchoVC commented on this funding milestone: “Wapi Pay is an exciting fintech that is removing friction in an enormous payments space for Africa and powering the circular trade economy. As the symbiotic relationship between Africa and Asia deepens, Wapi Pay’s ecosystem of services will become increasingly critical to bridge and drive economic value between the two continents. We look forward to working with Paul and Eddie on this next phase of growth.”

MSA Capital commented on this funding milestone: “Africa to Asia is a large trading corridor overlooked and underserved by tech today. We believe Wapi Pay is the best team to build the necessary infrastructure to support its growing trade volumes. We are excited to support with our extensive China fintech network and playbook.”

Wapi Pay focuses on the Africa-Asia remittance corridor. China-Africa trade jumped 27% to $52.1 billion in the first quarter of this year 2021 compared with 2020, buoyed by the recovery of economies after the coronavirus pandemic.

Today traders have to endure high remittances fees of up to 15% of the amount, waiting period of up to five days, and are exposed the high risk of consistent reversals due to unmatched instructions, with Wapi Pay the cost reduces to below 3% and same day payout.

Sub-Saharan Africa remains the most expensive region to send money to and out, according to the World Bank, with the average cost of sending $200 being 8.02% of the principal amount compared with 4.64% for South Asia, the lowest cost globally. Seamless payment platforms such as Wapi Pay can greatly ease trade and investments, according to Ndichu.

“Wapi Pay bypasses traditional payment networks, optimizing efficiency and cost for our customers. Users choose the delivery channels they want such as Bank to Bank, Wallet to Wallet, Bank to Wallet and Wallet to Bank options to transfer funds as well as make merchant payments, with settlement done within 24 hours.”

Wapi Pay is in China, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, India, Taiwan and Vietnam — working with local banks and platforms. It targets to process $500 million in remittances by the end of 2022, grow the number of registered suppliers and beneficiaries in Asia to 100,000; and sign up at least 500,000 merchants, traders and businesses in Africa.

 

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CreditFins, Egypt’s first Credit Card management platform, closes a pre-seed funding round

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CreditFins Team 

CreditFins, a Credit Card management and financial wellness startup and the first of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa(MENA), closed a pre-seed round of investment led by Flat6Labs, AUC Angels, and TA Telecom Holding. Other Angel Investors with backgrounds in technology and investment participated in the funding, which CreditFins is deploying towards developing the product and acquiring users.

“Credit Fins has developed a cutting-edge financial technology solution to alleviate bank customers’ financial struggles, kicking off in Egypt and expanding to new markets. Add to that their solid founding team who continue to grow their business, is a sure recipe for success. Flat6labs is proud to be part of their success journey.” said Albert Malaty, Managing Director of Flat6Labs Cairo Seed Program.

CreditFins helps users repay their Credit Card debt while saving money. It is a cheaper, more convenient solution for debt repayment through fixed, lower monthly installments as part of a plan that can be easily tracked. CreditFins’ customers save 20-50% of the interest they would have paid with their bank.

“CreditFins stood out amongst their cohort because of a clear strength in the team. The diversity in their experience, and their resourceful approach to addressing the problem they’ve identified, was apparent to investors. We look forward to witnessing the growth and pivots they will go through in their mission to empower their user base through enhanced financial tools.” said Mariam Kamel, Manager of AUC Angels.

As total outstanding credit card debt in Egypt stood at more than $2 billion as of 2019, CreditFins is on a mission to grant its customers financial freedom. CreditFins is aware that falling into the vicious debt cycle is due to inaccessibility of information and lack of awareness, a gap the startup seeks to fill.

The startup is actively working to launch “CreditFins Alpha” card, introducing more features to its solution, as it strives to make its credit card management platform more compelling and to widen its customer base.

“Credit card debt is a moving target that’s hard to settle. At CreditFins, we work with our customers to settle the debt they have in a faster and cheaper way, along with providing them with financial information and empowering them with the right tools to be financially liberated” said Sherif Radi, co-founder and CEO of CreditFins.

The company is founded by a team with extensive experience in innovation and product building. Co-Founder and CEO Sherif Radi has over 17 years of experience in innovation strategy. As former CEO of TA Telecom, his work focused on innovation, customer-centric solutions, and building new products. Co-founder and CPO, Gamal Sadek, is a tech-entrepreneur with over 11 years of experience in entrepreneurship, during which he co-directed the Founder Institute chapter in Egypt and co-founded Bey2ollak, Egypt’s number one mobile app for crowdsourcing traffic information used by over 1.3 million commuters in Egypt.

Co-founder and CCO Norhan El Sakkout, was previously an investment associate at LimeVest Partners and Beltone Private Equity, having worked at Endeavor Egypt on accelerating high-impact SMEs, then at TA Telecom; she brings the know-how in investment, finance and business continuity.

 

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Yoco raises US$83m to scale its financial ecosystem for small businesses in South Africa

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Yoco Founders (Images: Ivy Shirinda-JNPR)

Yoco, South African payments and software platform, has secured $83 million (R1.2 billion)  in Series C funding amid a surge in demand for digital payments amongst African small businesses.

The latest investment round brings the total funds raised to date, by Yoco, to US$107 million. These funds will enable Yoco to accelerate the development of its financial ecosystem, which already includes online and in-store payments, business software and capital, as well as expand its market presence beyond South Africa.

Among the company’s new investors are Dragoneer Investment Group, which is making its Africa investment debut, Breyer Capital, HOF Capital, The Raba Partnership, 4DX Ventures, TO Ventures, Futuregrowth and several current and former executives from global tech leaders such as Coinbase, Revolut, Spotify and Gojek.

“We are excited to partner with such world-class investors who have joined our quest to break barriers and create access to financial services for millions of small businesses across the continent.” said Katlego Maphai, the chief executive office of Yoco, “Looking ahead, this investment will unlock capacity for us to accelerate product development for our merchants and continue on our growth trajectory in South Africa and beyond.”

In less than six years, Yoco has become the preferred payments partner for over 150 000 small businesses across South Africa, processing more than US$1 billion in card payments per year. Importantly, Yoco’s growth has been driven almost exclusively by small, independent businesses that were previously cash-only due to the complexity and high costs of existing alternatives.

Carl Wazen, Yoco’s chief business officer, says that despite being the largest payments platform in South Africa, Yoco is still at the beginning of its journey.  “There are over 6 million small businesses in South Africa and well over 100 million across the Middle East and Africa that still transact only in cash.” Wazen says “recent consumer behaviour shows a shift away from cash and businesses have to rapidly adapt to this change. This presents a huge opportunity and it is our mission to support that transition.”

Yoco team

Yoco has big plans for seizing this opportunity by continuing to deepen its market presence in South Africa and expanding into Africa and the Middle East region over the next two years. The goal, according to Wazen, is to reach at least a million merchants within the next four years.

“Working so closely with small businesses during a global pandemic, and in particular through a challenging socio-economic environment in South Africa, we have a firsthand account of how agile these businesses need to be in a rapidly changing world,” says Maphai.

“Removing barriers and levelling the playing field by creating access to financial tools is a big part of answering these challenges. Yoco is at the forefront of solving what is critical for small businesses and enabling them to thrive. This new capital injection translates into an acceleration of access for small businesses in our region and beyond, bringing our vision of open commerce forward,” concludes Maphai.

 

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