Sokowatch has raised $125 million in a Series B round led by Tiger Global and Avenir Growth Capital.
“After more than six years building and constantly iterating on our operations, we are proud to have demonstrated the traction and quality of business required to raise funding from world-class investors.” Daniel Yu, founder and CEO of Sokowatch (now Wasoko) said.
Launched in 2015, Sokowatch is described “as an asset-light platform and a marketplace for distributing fast-moving consumer goods from suppliers to retailers.”
Over $600 billion of consumer goods are sold in Africa through informal retail channels every year, supplying the vast majority of the population. Despite the importance of the informal retail sector, the industry still remains highly fragmented and inefficient with local shops facing a number of major challenges including frequent stockouts, limited access to capital, and difficulty receiving goods from suppliers.
Alongside the new funding, Sokowatch has also officially launched in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, and Dakar, Senegal, the company’s first locations in West Africa, as it continues to revolutionize access to consumer goods across Africa’s $600 billion informal retail sector.
With its rapidly growing Pan-African operations, the company has rebranded to Wasoko, which translates to “People of the Market” in Swahili. The new brand reinforces the company’s shift from its origins as a backend distribution software platform in East Africa to a public brand providing free delivery of essential goods and working capital financing to informal retailers across opposite ends of the African continent.
“Sokowatch started as this kind of backend brand. We wanted a brand that could be more front and center for the African retailer and easily pronounced across all markets while reflecting our East African roots. So that’s why we’ve rebranded now to Wasoko, meaning ‘people of the market,” Yu told TechCrunch.
Since its launch, Wasoko has delivered 2.5 million orders to over 50,000 informal retailers across Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire, and Senegal with revenue growth over the past 12 months at over 500%.
Wasoko’s Series B round is the largest non-fintech venture raise in African history. In addition to the historic raise and rebrand, Wasoko has appointed Sujeet Kumar, Co-Founder of Udaan – the world’s largest B2B retail e-commerce company – to its Board of Directors to provide strategic guidance for Wasoko’s continued growth.
With this investment, Wasoko will drive further geographic expansion and product growth across the continent. The company is exploring expansion into Nigeria and Southern Africa, while continuing to consolidate its market-leading position across its six current countries.
The e-commerce startup will also examine opportunities to expand its product offering to verticals such as merchant point-of-sales systems, bill payments, and social commerce through both internal innovation as well as strategic investments and acquisitions of relevant companies.
As Wasoko continues to strengthen its presence across Africa, the company has made several transformative appointments to its senior leadership team including Mellany Msengezi (ex Airtel) as Head of Marketing; Aurelien Barreau (ex Carrefour) as Head of Sourcing; and Georges Bejjani (ex. Jumia) as Head of Business Intelligence.