Sokowatch, one of Afrika’s largest B2B e-commerce companies has announced the close of a $125 million Series B round in full equity. The investment is reported to be the largest Venture Capital (VC) financing round raised in Afrika for a non-fintech startup. The company has also renamed and rebranded to Wasoko, which translates to “People of the Market” in Swahili.
The $125 million Series B round was co-led by Tiger Global and Avenir Growth and also features new investors - VNV Global, Binny Bansal (Co-Founder at Flipkart) and Sujeet Kumar (Co-Founder at Udaan) as well as existing investors Quona Capital, 4DX Ventures, and JAM Fund.
“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. We’re fully focused on leveraging their strategic support to build one of the biggest e-commerce companies in the world and transform access to goods and services for African citizens across every corner of the continent,” said Daniel Yu, Global CEO and Founder of Wasoko.
Growing Afrikan footprint
Alongside concluding the Series B fundraising, Wasoko is expanding into West Afrika for the first time. The B2B e-commerce company has officially launched in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire as well as Dakar, Senegal.
Wasoko was launched in 2016 and it has since worked with informal retailers across Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Côte d’Ivoire, and Senegal. Testament to its growth, Wasoko has built a Pan-Afrikan business with more than 800 permanent staff across Afrika, all of whom are also shareholders in the company through Wasoko’s universal employee equity policy.
The company has said that the investment will help it explore expansion into Nigeria and Southern Africa, while continuing to consolidate its market-leading position across its six current countries. Wasoko is also examining 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.
Largest non-fintech VC raise in Afrika
Wasoko’s Series B round is the largest non-fintech venture raise in African history.
“Informal retailers capture the vast majority of consumer spend in Africa, and they are dramatically underserved by existing distribution and financial infrastructure. 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," said Andrew Sugrue, Founding Partner at Avenir Growth Capital.
Wasoko has also 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.
— By Tefo Mohapi