June 5, 2023
MarketForce Founders Mesongo Tesh 1 scaled 1

Tesh Mbaabu and Mesongo Sibuti founded MarketForce in 2018. The founders wanted to solve the fragmentation issue they noticed among small retail shops and their distribution networks. 

In addition, these shops are often used as points for offering financial services to the everyday Kenyan.

Thus, MarketForce’s play enables the optimized distribution of FMCG goods and financial services through this network of agents.

Today, thousands of informal merchants use MarketForce’s B2B Commerce and Fintech marketplace, RejaReja, to source, order, and pay for inventory at any time via interactive mobile channels, and get it delivered directly to their store by the nearest distributor, within hours, every day.  

MarketForce also enables merchants to earn more by making them a one-stop-shop for popular digital financial services like buying airtime, paying water and electricity bills, and banking and insurance services.

With operations in Kenya, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda, MarketForce enables informal merchants to source goods directly from manufacturers and distributors as well as place and pay for orders digitally through its RejaReja app.

Traders can also earn through reselling airtime, electricity tokens, and bill payments and also access loans for their businesses.

Their goal is to be the ultimate partner for informal merchants, empowering them to maximize their profits and grow in a digital age by getting better service, assortment, and access to new revenue opportunities, outfitting them with the technology and support they need to transform themselves from simple FMCG outlets to comprehensive financial service hubs for the continent’s last-mile communities.

How it Works

RejaReja

”RejaReja” is a Swahili word for retail, which sums up our collective vision to revolutionize retail distribution and drive financial inclusion in Africa using technology.

RejaReja is an all-inclusive B2B commerce and fintech platform 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.

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Through the super app RejaReja, informal traders can source goods (hundreds of SKUs) directly from manufacturers and distributors, make and pay for orders digitally, accept payments for utility bills, and access loans for their businesses. 

The RejaReja retail marketplace was launched in 2020 as a brainchild of MarketForce, a SaaS product for the formal markets, founded by Tesh Mbaabu and Mesongo Sibuti in 2018.

Additionally, RejaReja is an asset-light model, meaning that it doesn’t own capital assets like warehouses and delivery trucks, as most of them are provided by its partners (which include manufacturers and distributors). 

The nature of the business allows it to grow fast. Household retail in sub-Saharan Africa is delivered through informal retailers, but these shops are faced with several challenges like stockouts, earnings instability, and lack of financing, factors that make it hard for their businesses to grow.

MarketForce, through RejaReja, solves this by providing a marketplace where informal traders can source goods directly, which also keeps the prices of products competitive by removing the need for agents, and ensures the next-day delivery of goods.

It also uses the traders’ transaction history to develop the credit profiles needed to secure loans. The startup has a partnership with Pezesha, a digital financial marketplace platform, to extend loans to its merchants.

Digiduka

MarketForce acquired another Kenyan retail platform Digiduka. The platform allows informal retailers to resell digital services like airtime, electricity tokens, and bill payments. 

Digiduka’s acquisition saw that it was fully integrated into RejaReja, which now provides a wallet for retailers to act as agents and collect mobile money and bank payments via mobile app, WhatsApp bots, or USSD shortcodes.

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Founders

Tesh Mbaabu

tesh mbaabu

Tesh Mbaabu is an African serial technology entrepreneur who lives to blend commerce and technology. He is the co-founder and CEO of MarketForce, a B2B Commerce platform that empowers over 200,000 neighborhood merchants across 5 African markets to source, order, and pay for inventory, access financing and earn more by reselling financial services in their communities.

He is a Partner at Mesozi, an information technology holding company offering and investing in tech-enabled solutions across several industries and markets in Africa. 

As an avid adventure seeker, Tesh also co-founded Cloud9xp, an African leisure experience booking platform. They exited to HotelOnline in 2020.

Before founding Mesozi, Tesh was the Founder and Creative Director of a graphic, web, and digital design agency, Tesh Technologies Limited(TeshTeq), a venture he started at the age of 18. 

Through his blog, he shares his journey as a technology entrepreneur, the adventures he undertakes, the people he meets, the books he’s reading, and what he’s learning.

Tesh is Forbes Africa 30 under 30, a Choiseul 100 Africa Laureate, Business Daily Top 40 under 40 Men Kenya, CIO Africa Top 45 Most Influential Men in Digital Transformation, Top 10 Africa Business Heroes, Harambean, Schmidt Futures, Westerwelle, Alibaba, and UN Fellow.

 He is a graduate of Computer Science from the University of Nairobi.

Mesongo Sibuti

Mesongo Sibuti

Mesongo Sibuti is the current Founder and CTO of MarketForce. He previously worked at Cloud9xp as a Co-Founder.

Mesongo Sibuti is also a Forward-thinking Techprenuer specializing in the design, development, and scaling of technology-enabled platforms with a special interest in the field of B2B Services and Last Mile Delivery. 

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He has spent many of his years building e-commerce and banking solutions for neighborhood stores that contribute about 80% of retail transactions in Africa.

Mesongo Sibuti attended the University of Nairobi.

Investors & Funding Rounds

P1 Ventures, Y Combinator, Launch Africa, V8 Capital, Future Africa, Greenhouse Capital, Rebel Fund, Remapped Ventures, Reflect Ventures.

Africa’s retail payments, mostly cash-based, are expected to reach $2.1 trillion by 2025.

The investors who took part in this round include existing ones — P1 Ventures and Y Combinator, and new ones like Launch Africa, V8 Capital, Future Africa, GreenHouse Capital, Rebel Fund, Remapped Ventures, and some unnamed angel investors.

MarketForce has raised a total of $2.5 million, which includes its $350,000 seed round last year and a $150,000 check from Y Combinator as part of the accelerator’s Summer 2020 batch. 

With this round of funding, MarketForce plans to launch RejaReja in Nigeria and scale up the product across more towns in East Africa. 

The startup has a presence in Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, where over 15,000 retail customers use RejaReja to process thousands of orders daily.

On the other hand, MarketForce’s trademark SaaS product has garnered over 10,000 monthly active users despite giving RejaReja a year’s head start. 

These users have performed 300,000 transactions worth more than $500 million since its launch in 2018.

MarketForce clients include Pepsi, Safaricom, Fort Beverages, Lami, and Platinum Credit among others.

Main Competitors

JupiterOne: This startup specializes in providing cybersecurity asset management solutions.

Zenbly: SaaS, Consumer Mobile Application, Employee Mobile Application, Payments, Data exchange, Marketplace.

Parkdepot: It turns parking lots into mobility hubs.

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