Kenya: MarketForce raises $40 million in funding to expand business

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  • Kenyan-headquartered company MarketForce has closed $40 million Series A round, the largest Series A round of its kind in East and Central Africa
  • Through the funding, the company will expand its business and avail more digital financial and banking services through its extensive merchant network
  • MarketForce is a leading B2B Commerce and Fintech marketplace that empowers informal merchants in Africa to order, pay and receive inventory digitally and conveniently

MarketForce, a company headquartered in Kenya, is the latest startup to receive millions in funding.

On Tuesday, February 22, MarketForce revealed it closed a $40 million Series A round, the largest Series A round of its kind in East and Central Africa.

The company said it will use the funding plans to scale merchant inventory financing and expand in existing markets.

The company said it will avail more digital financial and banking services through its extensive merchant network. MarketForce has a team of 400 and intends to double the team before the end of the year.

The company also revealed that the funding came seven months after concluding a pre-Series A round.

London and Lagos based African-focused investment vehicle V8 Capital Partners led the funding. It included participation from Ten13 VC, SOSV Select Fund, Vu Ventures, Vastly Valuable Ventures and Uncovered Fund.

Several existing investors also participated in the funding. They include Reflect Ventures, Greenhouse Capital, Century Oak Capital and Remapped Ventures.

Ken Njoroge, Cofounder and former CEO of Cellulant also participated in the round and joins the board as Chairman. The oversubscribed round was made up of equity and debt.

MarketForce was founded in 2018 by Tesh Mbaabu and Mesongo Sibuti. It is a leading B2B Commerce and Fintech marketplace that 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.

The company 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.

On the supplier side, MarketForce monetises through availing real-time market intelligence dashboards to FMCGs.

MarketForce 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.

Tesh Mbaabu, Cofounder and CEO of MarketForce said the company’s goal is the ultimate partner for informal merchants, empowering them to maximise their profits and grow in a digital age by getting better service.

“We also want to provide them with 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,” he said.

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

Commenting on the funding, Tobi Oke, General Partner at V8 Capital and member of the MarketForce board said the MarketForce team has demonstrated their 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 potentials to improve incomes and enable millions of African merchants to grow their businesses,” he said.

Afya Rekod

The investment into MarketForce comes weeks after another Kenyan-based startup, Afya Rekod raised $2million in Seed funding to expand its business and speed up the launch of its patient portal

The company has a health record management platform built to assist users with better healthcare services.

Its platform allows organisations, health providers, and medical experts to interact and connect with patients, even remotely, in real-time whilst providing tools to store, manage and analyse health records and manage hospitals and facilities.

Afya Rekod Founder John Kamara. Photo: John Kamara.

Health data platform Afya Rekod receives $2 million to expand across Africa

Its platform is built on AI and blockchain to help patients and health providers access in real-time the mobility of health data.

Afya Rekod was founded in Kenya in 2019 and operates in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Cameroon, Zambia and the United States. It has over 150,000 users in 5 countries and is accessed via an app (android and ios) and web portal.

The company’s Founder, John Kamara, said the investment would help them achieve their mission of empowering patients, giving them access to their health data, and connecting with the health ecosystem, including hospitals, pharmacies, insurance, and beyond.

“For the past one and a half years, we’ve singularly focused on building a dynamic platform that streamlines health records with analytics and provides access to specialised clinics and experts. This delivers high-quality healthcare in a way that is critical for this moment,” Kamara said.

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Wanjiku Njuguna is a Kenyan-based business reporter with experience of more than eight years.

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