MarketForce raises $40 mln to further empower Africa’s informal merchants

MarketForce raises $40 mln to further empower Africa's informal merchants
IMAGE: Mesongo Sibuti and Tesh Mbaabu co-Founders MarketForce

MarketForce, a Kenya-based B2B platform for retail distribution of consumer goods and digital financial services in Africa, has announced the closing of a $40 million Series A funding round, the largest of its kind in East and Central Africa.

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, Vastly Valuable Ventures and Uncovered Fund, along a number of existing investors; Reflect Ventures, Greenhouse Capital, Century Oak Capital and Remapped Ventures.

“Our goal is be the ultimate partner for informal merchants, empowering them to maximize 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 Tesh Mbaabu, Cofounder and CEO of MarketForce.

“We are targeting to serve over 1 million active merchants on our platform in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2025.”

In sub-Saharan Africa, approximately 90% of household retail transactions are in cash, and delivered through a network of about 100 million MSMEs. 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.

Founded in 2018, the B2B Commerce and Fintech marketplace empowers informal merchants in Africa to order, pay and receive 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.

MarketForce runs an asset-light operating model and is currently operational in 5 markets (Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda) with the merchant super app, RejaReja – which offers informal merchants next-day delivery for hundreds of SKUs from the leading FMCG brands.

In 2021, MarketForce served about 5,000 customers: now, that figure has grown more than twenty-fold to 100,000 merchants, with the average transaction size tripling and revenue growing 27x over the same period.

On the supplier side, MarketForce monetizes through availing real-time market intelligence dashboards to FMCGs. The company counts top consumer brands and financial service providers such as Nestle, Pepsi, Flour Mills of Nigeria, Bidco Africa, Chandaria Industries, Kapa Oil, Safaricom, Cellulant, Lami and Pezesha, to mention a few, as its partners.

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.