(Bloomberg) – US private equity firms Tiger Global and Avenir Growth Capital have led a funding round for Kenyan e-commerce platform Sokowatch at a valuation of $625 million, which the company will use to expand on new markets.
Sokowatch, which serves more than 50,000 merchants, plans to use the $125 million raised to help fund an ongoing expansion into the cities of Abidjan in Ivory Coast and Dakar in Senegal in West Africa. francophone, according to founder Daniel Yu. The company is also looking to expand into Nigeria and South Africa, potentially through acquisitions.
“Someone has to build and operate the infrastructure in Africa,” Yu said in an interview. “It’s this infrastructure that gives us the ability to jump into other related areas very quickly.”
International investors are increasingly targeting African startups – both fintechs and companies providing last mile delivery – to capitalize on the large number of online and unbanked people on the continent of 1.4 billion. inhabitants. Sokowatch estimates that the informal retail sector in Africa is worth around $600 billion, a huge market that is yet to be fully tapped.
The e-commerce platform also provides financial services, such as providing store owners with means to purchase goods. Rivals include Jumia Technologies AG, which offers similar services in countries led by Nigeria and is now listed in New York.
Tiger Global, the company of billionaire Chase Coleman, has also invested in Nigerian payment unicorn Flutterwave Inc.
Other new Sokowatch investors include Binny Bansal, co-founder of Indian e-commerce company Flipkart, and Sujeet Kumar of Udaan, India’s largest B2B e-commerce platform. Kumar will join the Sokowatch board to bring “lessons learned and experience” from the Asian market.
“Innovations from emerging markets in Asia can play a huge role in making e-commerce work for the masses in Africa,” Yu said. West.”
The company, which also operates in Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda, is renamed Wasoko.
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“Informal retailers capture the vast majority of consumer spending in Africa, and they are significantly underserved by the existing distribution and financial infrastructure,” said Andrew Sugrue, founding partner of Avenir Growth Capital.
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