Marketforce, the Kenyan B2B distribution platform, has raised $2m in a pre-Series A round. Funders include V8 Capital, Future Africa, GreenHouse Capital, Launch Africa, Rebel Fund, Remapped Ventures and means the company, which was founded in 2018 and recently acquired Digiduka, has raised more than $2.5m in funding.
Marketforce was launched in 2018 and describes itself as “end-to-end solution to manage your field sales activities and grow your distribution channels in Africa.” It claims to operate in 5 countries, works with more than 50 brands and to have processed $500m in sales.
At the end of 2020 it launched its own B2B online buying platform, RejaReja (translates from Swahili as ResellResell). RejaReja claims to deliver products within 24 hours of ordering and its app is targeted at informal retailers. It claims to have taken 75,000 orders from 12,000 informal retailers.
The new funding will be used to develop and scale RejaReja in East Africa – going head to head with Kenyan platforms Twiga, Copia and Sokowatch. Marketforce will also look to expand into Nigeria, where if it is successful will only go up against TradeDepot at present.
Marketforce is still very much the small player among the four major Kenyan disruptors in the distribution space. Copia has raised $53m and is likely to engage in another funding round in 2021. Twiga has raised $107.1m. Sokowatch has raised $18.6m. By contrast, TradeDepot has raised just $13m, operates in a far larger market (Nigeria) and is the only major disruptor.
Nigeria is not Kenya, however. Its supply chain is more fragmented and less mature. Its logistics infrastructure is poorer, more expensive and more prone to problems. Although we see online businesses based in Kenya looking to expand in Nigeria and vice versa, the reality is that Nigeria is a more hostile environment for non-Nigerian businesses.