Senegalese retail-tech startup ProXalys has raised $150,000 in pre-seed funding from Haskè Ventures, the venture builder for Francophone Africa.
The startup, which specialises in digital transformation in B2B commerce with informal sector retailers as its primary target was founded in 2021 by finance expert Thierno Sakho. It aims to modernise and empower Senegal’s informal traders, who account for up to 90% of the country’s economy.
A key challenge for the sector has been growing competition from large distribution chains that have modern and formalised processes. With this new competition, informal businesses are reinventing themselves, particularly through the digitisation of conventional supply chain processes.
ProXalys is working to level the playing field for the informal sector by digitising the entire value chain and reinventing the supply chain processes of the numerous actors in this ecosystem.
According to Sakho, “Digitisation is crucial for the informal sector. We intend to strengthen and modernise the distribution channels. Our goal is to enable informal traders to withstand the dual digital and distribution revolution created by the large multinationals operating on the continent.”
It all started with a simple observation: informal traders, which include small scale vendors that operate on the side of the road – many of whom are women – and distributors of everyday products, experience difficulties accessing traditional loan or credit facilities, which are generally offered to formalised businesses.
ProXalys has three tools for managing and capturing daily financial flows in real time: an order-taking application for informal distributors; an IT system for administrative management (which includes order tracking and payment management; and a supply chain logistics management system – including: inventory, warehousing, transportation, and delivery.
The start-up also provides a procurement service for everyday products, such as onions and potatoes, with staggered payment terms and free delivery within 24-hours. A solution that will allow informal traders to extend their sales capacity thus enabling them to secure working capital for stock.
With more than a hundred customers, ProXalys is winning the trust of informal traders in Dakar. But the start-up does not plan to stop there and is also working to boost agricultural value chains. Each year in Senegal, 150 million dollars (100 billion F CFA) are lost in agricultural production due to limited market access.
“We support producers of all sizes, as we are the unique intermediary between them and informal distributors,” explains Sakho. ProXalys also works with formal sector customers across retail and hospitality value chains.
Thanks to the first round of fundraising, ProXalys intends to expand its reach in Dakar and in the major cities of Senegal with the ambition to eventually support the entire West African region. The start-up will invest the $150 000 capital in the reinforcement of its technology, and in the development of its physical infrastructure – which will include the consolidation of its vehicle fleet and warehouses.
“We believe that technology has a key role to play in modernising infrastructure in Africa, a major challenge that must be addressed through the upgrade of vital operational channels. Additionally, the transfer of knowledge and skills development will play a critical role in ensuring the sustained longevity of initiatives undertaken now. We are proud to be supporting ProXalys on their journey and look forward to future progress.” Abdourahmane Diop, Chief Executive Officer of Haskè Ventures said.