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Revamping Supply-chain Markets for Africa’s Informal Retailers

Kenya based B2B e-commerce startup Sokowatch has raised $14 million in Series A funding. From Nairobi, the company has created a platform that connects merchants directly to local and multinational suppliers and digitizes orders, payments and delivery-logistics. Since launching in 2016, and raising a $2 million seed round in 2018, Sokowatch has expanded within Kenya and into Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. With its Series A, the startup plans to broaden its client services — from working-capital to data-analytics — and target new African markets, according to CEO Daniel Yu. 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. Informal retail is still king in Africa — even with the emergence of shopping malls and well-funded e-commerce ventures, such as Jumia. The size and potential of the continent’s informal sector has captured the attention of economists and startups. GDP revisions in several African countries have revealed outdated statistical methods were missing billions of dollars in economic activity.