Kenyan E-Commerce Startup Sokowatch Raises $14M, Eyes Expansion

Sokowatch, a Kenyan based B2B commerce startup that connects informal retailers directly to local and multinational suppliers, has just raised $14m in a Series A round.

The Series A funding round was led by Quona Capital, with Vertex Ventures, 4DX Ventures, Timon Capital, Amplo, and Breyer Capital, also participating in Sokowatch’s USD 14 Mn round which follows a USD 2 Mn seed round recorded in 2018.

According to the CEO – Daniel Yu, Sokowatch plans to broaden its client services — from working-capital to data-analytics — and target new African markets with its Series A funding.

How Sokowatch is Reinventing Informal Retail Across Africa

Sokowatch Connects Street Hawkers With Big Corporations

Launched in 2016, Sokowatch has created a digital platform that connects merchants directly to local and multinational suppliers — including big brands like Proctor and Gamble (P&G) and Unilever. The platform also digitises every aspect of orders, payments, and delivery-logistics.

In 2018, Sokowatch raised a $2 million seed round, and has since expanded its operations within Kenya and into Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

Sokowatch also offers retailers an app to order products from its partner suppliers and maintains a fleet of vehicles, primarily three-wheelers, also known as “tuk-tuks,” for delivery.

“We handle all of our last-mile logistics exclusively ourselves,” Yu told TechCrunch.

Sokowatch App

The startup is also generating additional enterprise services. “As part of the product, we are developing other tools for merchants to directly manage other aspects of their business, especially when it comes to inventory and overall sales,” said Yu.

The data analytics Sokowatch creates for clients is also opening up working-capital solutions.

“We’ve been able to use that data to offer in-kind credit lines to many shops that can’t gain it from banks,” said Yu.

Sokowatch: Digitising Africa’s informal B2B supply-chain

Sokowatch is looking to change the narrative of many local merchants in Africa sacrificing capital and incurring opportunity costs due to an inefficient supply chain.

According to Yu, the startup now serves over 15,000 small retailers across its operating areas while claiming to save merchants up to 20 percent on supply-chain costs.

While Sokowatch remains tight-lipped over which Sub-Saharan African countries it is considering for expansion at this time, the CEO did hint at using the advantages of its platform to offer third-party logistics services or selling directly to online consumers in Africa someday.

With this investment, the startup has joined what could be considered a growing list of African B2B commerce and logistics startups that have roped-in significant funds in the last six months.

Since August 2019, Nigeria’s Kobo360 and a trio of Kenya-based startups, including Lori Systems, Twiga, and Sendy, have raised no less than USD 100 Mn between them while eyeing westward expansion on the African continent.


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