Kenyan e-commerce platform, Sokowatch has announced a $125 million raise at a $625 million valuation. The funding round was led by U.S. private equity firms Tiger Global and Avenir Growth Capital.
New investors in Sokowatch include Binny Bansal, co-founder of Indian e-commerce firm Flipkart, and Sujeet Kumar of Udaan, India’s largest business-to-business e-commerce platform. Kumar will join Sokowatch’s board to bring “lessons learned and experience” from the Asian market.
According to founder Daniel Yu, Sokowatch plans to use the $125 million it raised to help fund an ongoing expansion in the cities of Abidjan in Ivory Coast and Senegal’s Dakar in Francophone West Africa. The company is also planning to expand into Nigeria and South Africa, potentially through acquisitions.
Sokowatch serves as an asset platform as well as a marketplace for distributing fast-moving consumer goods from suppliers to retailers. It allows retailers across its countries of operations to order products from suppliers via SMS or its mobile app for same-day delivery to their stores and shops via a network of logistics drivers.
Similar to competitors, TradeDeport and MarketForce, Sokowatch offers a buy now, pay later option for retailers who need working capital to order more goods. The e-commerce platform also provides financial services such as providing shop owners with the means to purchase goods.
Similarly, the company has announced a rebranding to become Wasoko. Yu told TechCrunch that its recent entry into Ivory Coast and Senegal has made a rebranding imperative. This will help prepare it as it enters its next growth phase, moving from an East African player to a pan-African one.
Yu was quoted to have said that:
“Somebody has to set up and operate the infrastructure in Africa. It is that infrastructure that gives us the capability to very quickly springboard into other related areas.” Sokowatch estimates Africa’s informal retail sector to be worth about $600 billion, a huge market yet to be fully tapped.
Since launching in 2016, Wasoko has delivered 2.5 million orders to more than 50,000 active retail customers in its network. The company told Techcrunch that its revenue has grown over 500% in the past year and 1,000% since 2019.
This raise is good news for Wasoko’s 800 employees who are shareholders of the company through its universal employee equity policy.
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