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Kenyan e-commerce startup Sokowatch raises $125M, rebrands to Wasoko


Kenyan based B2B e-commerce startup Sokowatch has raised a $125 million Series B equity round, the largest venture financing round ever raised for a non-fintech startup in Africa. The round was led by Tiger Global, the world’s largest venture capital firm, and Avenir Growth Capital.

VNV Global, Binny Bansal (Co-Founder of Flipkart) and Sujeet Kumar (Co-Founder of Udaan), as well as existing investors Quona Capital, 4DX Ventures and JAM Fund also participated in the round.

Alongside the new Series B funding, Sokowatch has also officially launched in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire and Dakar, Senegal, the company’s first locations in West Africa. The startup which has created a platform that connects merchants directly to local and multinational suppliers has also rebranded to Wasoko, which translates to “People of the Market” in Swahili.

Launch in 2016, Wasoko has delivered 2.5 million orders to over 50,000 informal retailers across Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire, and Senegal with revenue growth over the past 12 months at over 500%.

The new capital will enable Wasoko to drive further geographic expansion and product growth across the continent. The company is exploring expansion into Nigeria and Southern Africa, while continuing to consolidate its market-leading position across its six current countries. Wasoko is also examining opportunities to expand its product offering to verticals such as merchant point-of-sales systems, bill payments, and social commerce through both internal innovation as well as strategic investments and acquisitions of relevant companies.

“After more than six years building and constantly iterating on our operations, we are proud to have demonstrated the traction and quality of business required to raise funding from world-class investors. We’re fully focused on leveraging their strategic support to build one of the biggest e-commerce companies in the world and transform access to goods and services for African citizens across every corner of the continent.”  Daniel Yu, Global CEO and Founder of Wasoko, said.

Wasoko’s Series B round is the largest non-fintech venture raise in African history. In addition to the historic raise and rebrand.

Over $600 billion of consumer goods are sold in Africa through informal retail channels every year, supplying the vast majority of the population. Despite the importance of the informal retail sector, the industry still remains highly fragmented and inefficient with local shops facing a number of major challenges including frequent stockouts, limited access to capital, and difficulty receiving goods from suppliers. Through Wasoko’s platform, informal retailers are able to order products at any time via SMS or mobile app for free same-day delivery to their stores. Leveraging historic purchasing data, the platform also evaluates retailers to provide them with access to Buy Now Pay Later financing.

As Wasoko continues to strengthen its presence across Africa, the company has made several transformative appointments to its senior leadership team including Mellany Msengezi (ex Airtel) as Head of Marketing; Aurelien Barreau (ex Carrefour) as Head of Sourcing; and Georges Bejjani (ex. Jumia) as Head of Business Intelligence.

The startup has also appointed Sujeet Kumar, Co-Founder of Udaan – the world’s largest B2B retail e-commerce company – to its Board of Directors to provide strategic guidance for Wasoko’s continued growth.

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Nixon Kanali

Tech journalist based in Nairobi. I write about tech, business and African startups. Founder and Editor For TechTrendsKE. Nixon is also the East African tech editor for Africa Business Communities. Send tips to nkanali@techtrendske.co.ke.

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