Emerging and Growth Markets | January 10, 2023

VilCart raises $13 million to digitalize India’s mom and pop shops

Jessica Pothering
ImpactAlpha Editor

Jessica Pothering

ImpactAlpha, January 10 – Bangalore-based VilCart helps India’s kiranas, or mom and pop shops, digitalize their business operations and source inventory. The company, launched in 2018, caught the pandemic-fueled enterprise tech wave that helped such informal and micro businesses procure goods, manage inventory and access financial services.

Vilcart supports more than 45,000 shops in villages across the state of Karnataka.

Asia Impact, Nabventures and Texterity Private Limited backed VilCart’s $13 million Series A round.

Enterprise tech

The digitalization of the vast informal business sector in many emerging markets was one of the stories of 2021, with tech startups raising billions of dollars from venture capital investors.

Not so in 2022: investor interest slowed with the downturn, and a number of once-hot startups, including India’s Dukaan and Psi Phi Global, Kenya’s MarketForce, Nigeria’s Alerzo and Egypt’s Capiter, have laid off workers, pivoted or shuttered.

“It is new technology and you need a certain level of handholding,” commented Gaurav Ranjan of Bangalore-based VC firm Prime Venture Partners, which has backed Ezetap, a company making point of sales systems for small businesses.

The market slowdown accelerated the shakeout of winners and losers. “There is no lack of intent” from small and medium-sized enterprises, Ranjan said. “Everyone wants to go online.”