Kenya’s Sokowatch, which enables informal retailers to order products at anytime via SMS or mobile app, and receive free same-day delivery to their store has raised $14 million in Series A funding for expansion.
Sokowatch, launched in 2016, has operations in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda. The $14 million Series A, led by Quona Capital, with the participation of Amplo, Breyer Capital, Vertex Ventures, Timon Capital and existing investor 4DX Ventures, will help it to enter into new products such as working-capital, data-analytics and launch into new markets.
Sokowatch makes it easier for shopkeepers to source goods and helps manufacturers ensure that their products are consistently available to consumers. It leverages historic purchasing data to provide retailers with access to credit and other financial services typically not available to informal businesses.
The firm uses its technology to track real-time sales and orders across thousands of stores. The data also gives it access to market trends and purchasing habits to enable manufacturers to tailor their marketing strategies, personalized promotions and business insights to individual retailers.
The firm’s platform also connects merchants directly to local and multinational suppliers and helps digitize orders, payments and delivery for over 15,000 small retailers across its markets.
Sokowatch offers retailers an app to order products from its partner suppliers and maintains a fleet of vehicles, primarily three-wheel tuk tuks, for delivery.
“We handle all of our last-mile logistics exclusively ourselves,” said Yu.
The startup is also generating additional enterprise services. “As part of the product we are developing other tools for merchants to directly manage other aspects of their business, especially when it comes inventory and overall sales,” said Yu.
The data analytics Sokowatch creates for clients is also opening up working-capital solutions.
“We’ve been able to use that data to offer in-kind credit lines to many shops that can’t gain it from banks,” said Yu.