B2B retail and financial services distribution platform, MarketForce, has announced a strategic partnership with Cellulant, a Pan-African payments company.
Together with Cellulant, MarketForce seeks to extend the availability of RejaReja retailer ‘super app’ to over 1,000,000 merchants across seven countries, among which five are new, in sub-Saharan Africa by 2022.
According to Reuters, restrictions on movement and increased wariness of handling physical cash helped lift sub-Saharan mobile money transaction volumes 23% to $490 billion last year, greater than the GDP of Nigeria, the region’s biggest economy.
Active users increased by 18% to 159,000,000, according to the GSMA, an industry body that monitors telcos. A trend that will continue to grow in a post-pandemic era.
The combination of corner shops and mobile payments in Africa are increasingly recognised for being what they are: the foundation of financial inclusion.
The average corner shop serves at least 300 unique customers every week – so we predict that the solution will reach 300,000,000 customers by 2023, therefore driving financial inclusion in a real and measurable way across the continent.
By working to introduce more solutions that embrace the disruptive power of technology, in particular mobile, MarketForce aims to ensure that more and more businesses and their customers can enjoy life-changing financial access by being able to accept and make payments for essential goods and services seamlessly.
MarketForce and Cellulant are collaborating to offer additional revenue opportunities for informal retailers through empowering them to be agents for major financial services, as well as access payments, savings, investments, insurance and buy-now-pay-later products.
The integration will help MSMEs fully leverage the power of mobile-first financial distribution technology and infrastructure to grow their businesses.
Cellulant, founded in 2004, provides locally relevant and alternative payment methods for thousands of global, regional and local merchants. It has partnerships with 46 mobile-money operators in Africa, 120 banks and serves 35 African countries with a physical presence in 18.
Founded in 2018, MarketForce is an all-inclusive B2B commerce 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 through its RejaReja app.
“MarketForce recognises the power of collective action, we are excited to collaborate with like-minded partners like Cellulant, as well as players like Safaricom (MPesa). It is an opportune time to grow our partnership with Cellulant out of Kenya, where we have already processed millions of transactions in 2021 alone. We have served over 550,000 unique consumers through a network of over 100,000 merchants, across all the major Kenyan towns,” Tesh Mbaabu, co-founder and CEO, MarketForce.
Over the next 12 months, MarketForce will invest in driving expansion into more cities on the continent through recruiting the best people and localising the product and service to fit any new market where it plans to operate.
“We have been piloting this partnership for 6 months and are happy to announce the plan to extend the fruitful relationship we have built with MarketForce in Kenya; and joining them as they avail the powerful RejaReja platform in six more African countries where Cellulant already has a foot in — Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, Rwanda and Ethiopia,” David Waithaka, chief business officer, Cellulant.
“This collaboration will make our digital financial services available to millions of Africans, with the goal of significantly boosting financial inclusion and incomes for merchants across Sub-Saharan Africa.”
In sub-Saharan Africa, approximately 90% of household retail transactions are in cash and delivered through a network of about 100 million MSMEs.
Retail payments on the continent are expected to top $2.1 trillion by 2025, and MarketForce aims to digitise a large portion of these offline transactions and be the ‘super app’ for these informal businesses to maximise their profits and grow in a digital age.
MarketForce has partnered with top global investors, including Y Combinator, SOSV and Google, to accelerate this mission.