Kenya’s Powered by People raises $1.5M seed funding to help artisans compete in the global retail market

Powered by People (PBP), a Kenyan fintech and eCommerce startup targeting creative manufacturing producers and buyers has raised $1.5 million in seed funding to build out a world-class team to execute its aggressive expansion plan.

The round was led by Matt Kalish of DraftKings with participation from TBD Angels, Skillz, Uber, as well as impact investors, Good+Well and PBP’s previous investors and financial supporters Founders Factory Africa,  Mercy Corps and the Mastercard Foundation.

In a statement, Matt Kalish, President and Co-Founder of DraftKings, said: “I invested in Powered by People because I believe there is a tremendous global demand for quality handmade goods made locally – and not mass produced – across textile, furniture, art and more.” 

PBP joined Founders Factory Africa’s venture scale program in September 2020 and launched PBP PRODUCE, a mobile-to-web production coordination tool that is now supporting over 5,000 producers to work from home during COVID restrictions; and scaled up PBP FINANCE to unlock $481,000 in purchase order financing.

At the end of the year, the business developed the PBP MARKET – set to meet the increasing demand for authentic and diverse goods by the global retail market. PBP also released an innovative report on Creative Manufacturing and Handmade Sector, sponsored by the Mastercard Foundation. 

PBP, led by Ella Peinovich, who also co-founded Soko in Kenya, is a mobile-first, distributed manufacturing system offering online tools, financing solutions, and a B2B marketplace to Africa’s creative manufacturing and handmade sector. PBP connects handmade and natural cosmetic producers across Africa, Asia and Latin America to the global market.

The landscape for B2B marketplaces has changed, we are building the future of retail to be more digital, more diverse, and more transparent,” said Ella Peinovich, Co-Founder and CEO of PBP. “Off of a fresh round of funding, we will be able to support access for a whole new class of artisans to compete in the mainstream retail market.” 

According to Research and Markets Ltd, the Boutique manufacturing is growing at 20% per annum and is on track to reach $1 trillion of the $25 trillion retail market by 2023.  

PBP offers retailers credit lines with flexible payments, discovery of diverse global brands and products, and the ability to customize products for exclusive offers in their store. PBP brands are global suppliers to some of the best in the business including William Sonoma, IKEA, Crate and Barrel, Nordstroms, Goop, among others. 

With the funding, PBP is now looking to form more relationships with more retailers across Africa and globally. 

We are the bridge that empowers mainstream retailers, designers, and brands to source diverse and exclusive products from around the world – across home décor & accessories, fashion and beauty products – some of the fastest growing sectors in retail,” said Peinovich, “We are honored to be a technology partner for the 100s of millions of boutique manufacturers globally looking to move online.”

Matt Kalish hopes that by connecting the supply and demand sides with infrastructure and technology, Powered by People can empower creators globally to succeed while helping to introduce buyers of global handmade goods to products they will love. 

Peinovich has spent seven years based in Nairobi Kenya running a successful ecommerce/DTC platform SOKO www.shopsoko.com. Her Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer, Hedvig Alexander, grew up in Denmark, served in the Danish Army and spent 10 years in Afghanistan working for the UN and managing large development programmes. PBP’s established team operates in Nairobi, Kenya, Mumbai, India and Toronto, Canada. 

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