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Kenya-based Powered by People gets $5 million seed to scale operations of its wholesale e-commerce platform – TechCrunch

A wholesale e-commerce platform based in Kenya, Driven by peoplehas secured $5 million in seed funding to grow its transaction volume by increasing the number of small brands using its B2B online marketplace to reach international buyers.

The equity financing was led by Susa Ventures and Golden Ventures with participation from a number of investors including Flexport Ventures, J Ventures and DraftKings founders, Fabric. Total funding raised by the startup is $7 million, having previously received backing from a range of investors including Founders Factory Africa, Mercy Corps and the Mastercard Foundation.

Powered by People connects small brands with retailers who value supply chain transparency, sustainability and low-volume production – companies who are also driven by the need for diversity and are committed to supporting small retailers as they also become more conscious with the rise keeping up with customers.

Powered by People, co-founder and CEO spoke about the equity investment Ella Peinovich said, “We’re continuing to expand our technology…we have new vendor tools that we’re releasing this quarter that will help streamline and automate things to help these companies take on bigger orders and.” to grow. We are also investing in building our leadership.”

The startup works with over 200 brands and over 45,000 artisans from 47 countries, selling to retailers like West Elm and The Citizenry in key markets like North America and Asia. The company recorded a total gross merchandise value of $15 million through mid-March and they expect that to increase to $25 million before year-end. Orders on the platform average $1,200.

“We offer these companies a new perspective on the specialty retail market in North America. We’ve also introduced them to wholesale, which we think is the best way to source from any country and also makes good business sense.”

The startup also offers merchants up to 50% upfront financing to help them process customer orders quickly. The 120-day facility has an interest rate of 5%. The startup has already extended $5.8 million in loans to merchants and plans to issue another $10 million by the end of the year.

Ella Peinovich founded Powered by People with Hedvig Alexander and Alison Phillips. Photo credit: Driven by people.

“It is absolutely true that many of our makers would not undertake larger transactions because they lack the cash flow. We’re extending the funding so they can grow their businesses,” she said.

peinovich, Hedwig Alexander and Alison Phillips founded Powered by People in 2019 to provide emerging brands with access to global markets. For Peinovich it was not the first to start a social enterprise. In 2011 she teamed up with Catherine Mahugu and Gwendolyn Floyd to create Soko, a fashion brand that works with thousands of artisans to create accessories for sale in international markets. She moved to Kenya 10 years ago after graduating from MIT and held the position of CEO until 2018.

The idea behind Powered by People was to create a platform that would allow multiple brands to access international markets, which was a departure from running a production line.

“As a seasonal brand, we sold three quarters of our sales in the last quarter of the year. But what about the other three quarters of the year? How do we ensure sustainable growth for these artisans? I really believed in what we do at Soko and I felt like we should do the same for other brands. And that’s how Powered by People grew out of that idea,” said Peinovich.

The blueprint was clear: she wanted to create a marketplace for artisans to give them access to funding and business tools like the customer relationship management platform to help them manage and scale their businesses.

“They can track objects; We also offer low-cost money transfers from the US, which is our primary market. We provide payment tracks so they can take orders in US dollars. We also offer aggregation of logistics,” said Peinovich.

Powered by People also creates regional hubs to ensure faster delivery of orders and unlocks drop-ship e-commerce opportunities.

Peinovich said she’s always been drawn to social enterprises. She found that every product made by the artisans always has a backstory.

“The fact that I can balance my purpose with a business opportunity and the fact that the artists we work with and the small independent retailers can realize their retail vision by sourcing products and narratives that inspire customers , is extremely rewarding,” she says.

Kenya-based Powered by People gets $5 million seed to scale operations of its wholesale e-commerce platform – TechCrunch Source link Kenya-based Powered by People gets $5 million seed to scale operations of its wholesale e-commerce platform – TechCrunch

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