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Wasoko Business Model: A Marketplace for Africa’s Informal Retailers

By Chirag Naiknavare 30th November 2022

Wasoko, previously called Sokowatch is a Nairobi-based B2B organization that is responsible for connecting informal retailers to various manufacturers. Sokowatch recently raised $125 million in a Series B round of funding and the company rebranded to another name viz. Wasoko. 

The literal meaning of this name Wasoko is “people of the market”. This new name acquired by the company describes the business and its objectives more precisely since it’s focus is on the informal retailers. 

Daniel Yu is the founder and global CEO of the company and he said that they were searching for markets that were similar to their existing operating countries viz. Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda for expansion.

Sokowatch rebrands to Wasoko as it raises $125M Series B from Tiger Global  and Avenir | TechCrunch

The organization later announced that it has expanded to Cote d’Ivoire and Senegal which were its first markets away from East Africa. 

The Wasoko business model has been in operation long enough to get solid financial funding. It was officially launched in 2013 but it took a few years to fully launch its operations.

The company has been in business for more than 9 years and during this period it has grown and prospered. It is getting close to its goal of opening up an e-commerce platform for emerging markets that need digital connections to the larger economies operating in the world. 

How Wasoko is a transformative organization?

Wasoko has become a game-changing entity for smaller companies working in emerging markets. The company is an issue-resolver that provides local shops and stores with reliable connections to vendors for selling their products and supplies to the businesses that need them for making their products. 

The earlier network that operated for connecting these two entities was quite spotty. The goods delivery used to be unreliable. But thanks to Wasoko, this connection with the suppliers has improved with the availability of mobile phone ordering and SMS. It has become possible to achieve same-day or one-day deliveries instead of these being exceptions for a few store owners.

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Use of technology in Wasoko business model

Wasoko offers its products and services through an online platform. Various local businesses can subscribe and download the Wasoko app from Wasoko’s official website. This website at the moment uses more than 50 technologies to make sure that the users and visitors have a seamless and smooth experience. 

Many of these technologies get distributed across the 9 technology products on offer. Some of these products include iPhone Mobile Compatible, Viewport Meta, SPF, Google Fonts, HTML5, Google Analytics, etc.

The download growth rate for Wasoko’s technical products is high. Three of the Wasoko apps are increasingly popular. These apps include Wasoko Customer Care, Sokowatch, and Wasoko Agent. 

High investor confidence in Wasoko

Recently, some of their investors put up in the excess of $20 million in the company in the form of funds. Something did happen right that increased the investor confidence and interest in the organization which was established by the huge investments made in the company recently. 

Some of the bigger investors that joined the fundraising efforts recently are Avenir Growth Capital and Binny Bansal. These big-shot and wealthy investment companies were joined by 4DX Ventures which has Peter Orth on its board for representing the interests of their investors. 

Other Wasoko investors include Tiger Global Management, Quona Capital, Golden Palm Investments, VNV Global, and JAM Fund. The recent data disclosed by the company has sparked the interest of many investors that are confident about the growth potential of Wasoko.

Wasoko business model

Wasoko has banked over 50,000 informal retailers across 6 African countries, fulfilling over 2.5 million orders. 

Wasoko’s model is simple. They buy products in bulk from manufacturers at a discount and deliver them to shops on demand. Its 35 distribution hubs in the 6 countries it operates deliver goods to retailers using same-day delivery models at no cost. 

The business leaders at Wasoko are not afraid of wading into complex technological ventures while catering to countries where business networks have been a bit sketchy. There is plenty of work that has to be done in African countries where the business is targeting most of its development. 

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The Wasoko business has put together a network of logistics drivers to make sure that the business owners can get reliable and fast delivery of their orders with same-day efficiency and speed. 

Wasoko has an infrastructure in place for supply chain management and logistics that serves the retailers from Ivory Coast, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, and Senegal. They are in the process of correcting a faulty system that was in existence earlier.

$125 M Series B received by Kenya's Sokowatc, rebrands to Wasoko – Incubees

Financing programs for local businesses

Small business owners and shop owners can apply for different financing services via Wasoko. Organizations these days offer financial solutions to entrepreneurs that are called buy now and pay later alternatives. 

Under this program, the small shop owners get working capital for increasing the number of goods they wish to buy. It is a B2B e-commerce and retail-based service for helping organizations expand and grow their operations. 

They place working capital in the hands of various retailers. Rather than using third-party financial companies, Wasoko has decided to maintain the financing system in-house.

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Small and local businesses are getting better opportunities thanks to Wasoko. There is immense potential in Wasoko to affect the economies of many countries positively. 

The company has terrific disruptive potential to change the status quo of a country’s economy, especially in the region where it is serving. If you are looking to develop a similar platform, look no further than Jungleworks for top assistance.

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