Kenya’s Soko, an online go to marketplace for African art empowering women artisans by helping them tap into the global market using internet (formerly SasaAfrica) has raised US$ 700,000 from a Dubai-based investment firm, Rio Partners with participation from independent angels.
Soko is a DEMO Africa 2012 and a VC4Africa and GrowthHub alumni and was founded by Ella Peinovich, Gwendolyn Floyd and Catherine Mahugu based both in Nairobi and Cambridge city in Massachusetts, United States.
Africa’s entrepreneur network, VC4Africa first broke this news of Soko’s funding round . Soko told VC4Africa the early stage round of financing was from Dubai-based investment firm Rio Partners and other angel investors and attributed to their participation in DEMO Africa as a turning point.
They said: “We are pleased to announce the financing partnership with Rio Partners, who discovered Soko through our participation in DEMO Africa 2012. They bring exceptional experience in growing digital businesses in Africa as well as mobile money systems development and implementation, international marketing, and online sales. We have now closed our Series Seed Round of financing and launched our public website!”
With the money, and a robust and exciting mobile to web e-commerce platform, Soko told VC4Africa it will be shifting its focus on connecting its two markets, mobile able craft artisans and online consumers, through an optimized e-commerce experience, high impact marketing, community management, and consumer and trend feedback for artisans.
Soko also aim to break even in 2014 and hope to begin Series A fundraising toward 2013 end and up its high impact marketing campaign and expand geographically to reach more artisans.
Soko is also focused on helping women in sub Saharan Africa to access economic opportunities to better their lives by giving them tools necessary start, grow, and formalize their SME’s in a move to end the poverty, grow their businesses and join the formal economy.