Kenyan retail-tech startup MarketForce is the only sub-Saharan African company chosen for the Y Combinator Summer 2020 batch to provide $150,000 in funding and inspiration for a new venture.
Launched in 2018, MarketForce allows consumer brands to automate the delivery of critical products and services to retailers and customers by bridging the knowledge gap in last mile distribution while optimizing productivity across the value chain of sales and distribution.
The startup platform leverages mobile devices by allowing field agents to document all customer interactions as they do in the field, and then aggregates and displays these data through live web dashboards.
Disrupt Africa reported in May that MarketForce had raised US$ 350,000 in seed funding to help it build on its current momentum and enhance its product to unlock new revenue streams, with funding from the ViKtoria Business Angels Network (VBAN), EchoVC Partners, P1 Ventures and Ventures Platform.
It has now obtained $150,000 in additional funding from Y Combinator, and has also announced the launch of a new business line, MarketForce Troops, which will allow FMCGs and financial service providers to expand their retail distribution channels in Africa.
“Today, 90% of retail purchases take place through informal channels – with millions of” corner shops “and field sales agents serving as the first point of contact for customers and brands. Combined, they are the backbone of African cultures when it comes to retail sales and distribution.
With this in mind, MarketForce will use the funding to build up its network and adapt the technology to benefit the local retailers and sales teams.
“Our ultimate aim is to build thousands of jobs for African youth while ensuring that both urban and rural customers have timely access to critical goods and financial services,” said Mbaabu, adding that Troops is already processing substantial revenues by selling items from top consumer brands such as Unilever, P&G, Nestle and Cadbury.