ImpactAlpha, December 8 – ImpactAlpha has been watching all year as enterprise technology providers raise capital to bring micro and small businesses in emerging markets into the digital era. Nigeria’s TradeDepot’s big round of debt and equity put an exclamation point on the emergence of enterprise tech as a gateway to financial inclusion.
The company started in 2015 to help informal and mostly women-led merchants source inventory from consumer goods companies like Unilever and Nestle. The debt portion of its latest financing will help TradeDepot expand the buy-now pay-later financing for merchants it launched last year.
International Finance Corp. led the $42 million equity round, with Novastar Ventures, CDC Group, Sahel Capital and others. Arcadia Funds led the debt round.
Informal retailers and shopkeepers sell upwards of 80% of consumer goods in emerging markets, but lack access to financing to grow their businesses. Like TradeDepot, Sokowatch in Kenya offers buy-now pay-later credit for informal and small retailers. Nigeria and Kenya-based Field Intelligence provides inventory and inventory financing for small pharmacies. Kenyan fintech Pezesha facilitates small business financing for enterprise and logistics tech companies.
TradeDepot’s Ignatius Akpabio said investors were largely unaware of the economic inclusion opportunity for micro and small businesses when TradeDepot launched. TradeDepot’s big financing round, he added, indicates that “more investors and serious entrepreneurs being awakened to the opportunity and getting involved to work on this huge and critical problem in one of the most critical sectors of any economy.”