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Retail start-up Wasoko to invest Sh2bn in Kenya


Global CEO and founder of Wasoko Daniel Yu. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Retail tech start-up Wasoko, formerly known as Sokowatch, will invest at least $20 million (Sh2.29 billion) in Kenya to provide more small shop owners with fast-moving consumer goods.

This comes after the company raised $125 million (Sh14.29 billion) from international investors for its local and regional expansion.

"Out of $125 million, we will be investing at least $20 million in Kenya," Global CEO and founder of Wasoko Daniel Yu told the Business Daily in an interview yesterday.

The new capital was raised from venture capital firm Tiger Global and Avenir Growth Capital with participation of VNV Global, Binny Bansal (co-founder of Flipkart) and Sujeet Kumar (co-founder Udaan) as well as existing investors such as Quona Capital, 4DX Ventures, and JAM Fund.

Wasoko, which was founded in 2016 by Mr Yu, provides free same-day delivery of essential goods and financing to informal retail stores.

Through its systems, shop owners can purchase essential goods such as maize flour, cooking oil, among others, at competitive prices via a network of drivers.

It also offers a credit facility under ‘buy Now, pay later’ for retailers who need working capital.

Currently, the firm boasts over 50,000 active retail customers across Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda.

Part of the fund will also be used to expand its presence to West African markets such as Senegal and Ivory Coast as part of the company’s pan-African ambitions.

“Informal retailers capture the vast majority of consumer spend in Africa, and they are dramatically underserved by existing distribution and financial infrastructure,” Avenir Growth Capital Founding Partner Andrew Sugrue said in a statement.

“We’re excited about the category-defining, Pan-African commerce platform Wasoko is building and the efficiencies it brings to these retailers and their suppliers through a combination of superior product selection, logistics, and financial services.”

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