UK StanChart invests Sh413m in Kenyan e-commerce units


Standard Chartered billboards hang above a bank branch in Hong Kong. FILE PHOTO | AFP

British lender Standard Chartered Plc has pumped in capital worth Sh413 million in two Kenyan e-commerce subsidiaries targeting the business payments and agriculture segments, the bank’s latest disclosures show.

The financier said in its annual report for 2022 that it has a capital outlay of Sh295.8 million in its trade financing platform Solv Kenya, which trades under its local subsidiary Solvezy Technology Kenya Limited.

The multinational has also put in another Sh118.14 million in Tawi Fresh Kenya Limited, an agriculture digital marketplace that connects farmers directly to produce buyers, mainly hotels, restaurants, caterers, schools and hospitals.

On the Tawi platform, the lender says it has signed up more than 320 farmers, selling in excess of 130 farm products.

Solv, a business-to-business platform, enables credit-starved micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises to access funding based on their transaction history with suppliers without the need for collateral.

The platform —established through its innovation, ventures, and fintech investments unit, SC Ventures— was first rolled out in India in December 2020.

It was then launched in Kenya in October last year, where it is expected to act as a benchmark for future expansion into other African markets.

“In India and Kenya, we have set up Solv, an e-commerce marketplace for small and medium-sized enterprises, which served over 230,000 customers in 2022,” said Standard Chartered Plc in its 2022 annual report.

“SC Ventures continues to invest in potentially transformational business models and ecosystems, connecting more and more clients with economic opportunity.”

While the Indian platform is a business-to-business e-commerce marketplace where sellers reach new and verified customers, Kenya’s venture has initially focused on funding small traders who are approved by large suppliers.

They access loans through the platform that are spent on buying stock for their businesses.

Borrowers on the platform, who are nominated by suppliers, are required to digitally provide personal IDs, business permits, and their photos as part of the approval process.

Solv Kenya and Tawi are wholly-owned subsidiaries of the UK’s Standard Chartered Plc.

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