Fast moving consumer goods are a multi-billion dollar a year business in Africa, most of which flow through the small independent retail shops of the informal market. Despite their critical importance, these shops receive no direct distribution and are forced to source their own inventory. This results in low product availability and lost revenue for the shops, and falling market share for consumer goods companies.
In an attempt to understand how to solve this “last mile” distribution problem, the startup did an eight month pilot program where street hawkers received merchandise directly from corporations, and tracked demand using the tech Reliefwatch developed for health clinics. They found that they were able to increase wages for street hawkers, reduce stockouts of product at local shops, and corporations were able to get granular inventory data.
Sokowatch, founded by Daniel Yu, now provides consumer goods companies with a simple, consistent, and reliable distribution channel to meet the demands of the informal market. Shops order from Sokowatch via SMS and receive free delivery of their goods within 24 hours.
It supplies over 5,000 shops across Nairobi with goods from eight different multinational companies. The firm annual revenue currently stands at US $650,000 (Kshs 67 million).
These orders are then processed through Sokowatch’s system to notify nearby delivery agents, who then deliver the requested orders to shops within 24 hours.
The startup partners directly with the manufacturers of these goods, which include companies such as Unilever and GlaxoSmithKline, to source products and help address underserved areas with their existing distribution.
Currently Sokowatch is working in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
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