Senegal’s Kwely has announced its B2B e-marketplace expected to provide African producers and manufacturers with a global window to sell their products at scale in a move expected to unlock access to global markets and create a level playing field for small producers venturing into international trade.
The platform is expected to help international buyers to source high-quality, unique, and locally made products from across the continent such as food, hair and skin care, among others and position made-in-Africa products, increase their competitiveness on international markets and make global buyers and consumers discover the extensive range of natural and healthy ingredients that Africa has to offer.
According to Birame Sock, Founder & CEO of Kwely Inc, “Today, we celebrate the launch of Kwely, your destination to the best that Africa has to offer. For a long time, Made-in-Africa products have not been given the value they deserve. The talented producers are usually hidden behind larger brands, hindering their ability to build a direct customer base and their own brand identity.”
Sock adds that by introducing to the world high-quality products sourced from small and medium-sized companies, Kwely is unveiling rich and rare ingredients as well as the traditional workmanship out of Africa.
“SMEs constitute the backbone of our economies. By connecting them to international buyers, we are fostering an inclusive economic growth but also impacting entire communities,”Sock added. The wholesale distribution platform for Made-in-Africa products recently won the 2022 MEST Africa Challenge, a pan-African software and entrepreneurship training program, seed fund, and incubator helping to launch technology startups across the continent. MEST is a 12-month program that provides critical skills training in software development, business, and communications to Africa’s burgeoning tech talent. It also provides seed funding for the best ideas coming out of the program and continues to support the growth and development of its portfolio companies.
Winning the MEST Africa Challenge really means a lot to me and the Kwely Team. The journey of an entrepreneur is never easy but it really is a passion from my heart. Getting this recognition gives us the push and confidence that we need to forge ahead. When things get difficult, it is important to remember that we have a network of amazing people around us who are rooting for us,” said Sock.
In April, Kwely, announced a new round of funding of $700,000 to complete its US$1 million Series Seed round. The round of funding was led by WIC Capital with participation from Loftyinc Capital, Afropreneur Angels, Haskè Ventures and other angel investors. Initial investors including DNA Capital, the Lead Investor and UMA Ventures had participated in the first $250,000 part of the round in July 2021.
Set to be Africa’s Alibaba, Kwely currently works closely with local companies to make sure their products are export ready. The funding was to help in its marketing and distribution efforts, in the launch of its B2B wholesale digital platform and the implementation and launch of its packaging services facility.
Started in early 2020, Kwely has developed an MVP for its technology platform and validated over 200 products that are locally produced. Through its distribution platform, Kwely aims to position high quality Made In Africa products on the shelves and counters of major international retailers, hotels, airports, specialty stores and restaurants. In April 2021, the Company launched its first edition of the TEKKI Challenge in Senegal where ten local food and cosmetics brands received branding, packaging, and access to market support. Since then, Kwely has worked with these companies to co-develop Made-in-Africa brands which are ready for export and meet international standards. The company is preparing to launch its packaging studio which will offer filling, packaging, labeling and distribution services with a high standard of quality and adherence to global requirements such as the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and other international Consumer Packaged Goods standardization agencies and certification bodies.