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Kenyan Retail-tech Startup MarketForce Expands to Nigeria 

 

MarketForce, the Kenya-based B2B platform for retail distribution of consumer goods and digital financial services, has made Nigeria its first port of expansion in the wake of its funding round.

Co-founded in 2018 by Tesh Mbaabu and Mesongo Sibuti, MarketForce is a B2B retail marketplace that empowers informal merchants in Africa to source, order and pay for inventory digitally and conveniently, access financing, collect digital payments and make extra money by reselling digital financial services such as airtime, electricity tokens and bill payments.

The YC-backed company is running an asset-light business model and has over 30,000 merchants onboarded so far, with revenue growing by over 30 per cent month-on-month.

MarketForce recently raised over US$2 million in pre-Series A funding, and has now expanded internationally for the first time, opening its doors in Nigeria.

“Africa is reported to have over 100 million merchants. A whopping 40 million of them are in Nigeria, with the highest annual FMCG purchasing in the whole continent, signifying how significant the market opportunity for MarketForce is,” said Tesh Mbaabu, the startup’s co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO).

“Nigeria FMCG retail distribution operates very much like Kenya, it is very fragmented and competitive, which gives us the opportunity to make a real impact for both retailers and manufacturers.”

Linked to the expansion is MarketForce’s appointment of Arthur Bourekas as its new chief commercial officer (CCO). Bourekas has over 25 years of experience executing commercial growth, logistics and distribution in some of the most challenging countries in the world, having worked for A.G. Leventis (Nigeria) Plc and PZ Cussons in Nigeria, Indonesia, Malaysia and Australia. A veteran FMCG distribution expert in Africa, Bourekas was most recently involved at a senior level with Alerzo, a Nigerian B2B retail-tech startup that also helps retailers stock inventory directly from manufacturers.

“FMCG distribution in Africa is yet to be done effectively. Even multinationals with years of experience often can optimise their distribution and add real sales growth to their business. Innovation and focus is key. I am confident that with the platform MarketForce has built so far, along with the expertise being built within the organisation, we are destined to revolutionise the sector and become a formidable force,” he said.

Mbaabu said his new CCO aligned to MarketForce’s ambitious growth plans and brought significant expertise into this new, critical role.

“His extensive emerging market experience, ability to drive commercial growth, and depth of technical distribution knowledge in Nigeria will be valuable in our efforts to deepen our East Africa market reach while expanding into the West African market,” he said.

“We would like to focus on Kenya and Nigeria for now – but as an aggressive startup we continue assessing where we will go next. That notwithstanding, our focus remains on Sub-Saharan Africa, so you can bet we will be back to somewhere in East Africa.”

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