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Meet Kenyan entrepreneur who raised $40 million in funding for his startup in 2022

Mbaabu’s unique approach and determination to drive change in the retail industry have set him apart.

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Tesh Mbaabu.

Kenyan entrepreneur Tesh Mbaabu is leading the way among young African business leaders by using cutting-edge technology to revolutionize retail distribution and bring innovative solutions to key markets throughout the continent.

Mbaabu, who established a successful graphic, web, and digital design agency, Tesh Technologies Limited (TeshTeq), at the age of 18, has a diverse background in the field of technology. He shares his entrepreneurial journey and lessons on his blog, inspiring young entrepreneurs.

In 2018, Mbaabu joined forces with fellow Kenyan entrepreneur Mesongo Sibuti to co-found MarketForce, a retail distribution platform dedicated to digitizing retail distribution for emerging markets.

The startup’s main objective is to empower consumer brands, streamline their field sales operations, and expand their distribution networks across Africa through the use of innovative technologies and strategic partnerships.

Since its inception, MarketForce has quickly established itself as a top-performing end-to-end distribution platform. In 2021, the B2B retail and financial services distribution platform established a strategic partnership with Cellulant, Njoroge’s pan-African payment company.

As of February 2022, the retail distribution platform has handled $500 million in sales transactions and mapped out more than 125,000 retail outlets in five countries, while working with over 50 brands such as Nestle, Flour Mills of Nigeria, Unilever, Bidco, and METL Group.

This success quickly caught the attention of investors. Under the leadership of Mbaabu and Sibuti, MarketForce secured $40 million in a Series-A funding round joined by Kenyan entrepreneur and startup creator Ken Njoroge.

This was the largest Series-A funding round of its kind in East and Central Africa and came seven months after the Kenyan e-commerce startup secured $2 million in a pre-Series-A funding round, bringing the total funds garnered to $42.5 million.

The $40-million capital injection, which was led by V8 Capital Partners, an African-focused investment entity with offices in London and Lagos, Nigeria, has so far been deployed to finance merchant inventories and expand MarketForce’s operation across Africa.

As a top-performing Kenyan entrepreneur, Mbaabu’s unique approach and determination to drive change in the retail industry set him apart as one of the trailblazers in the African tech ecosystem. With the support of investors, his startup, MarketForce is well-positioned to continue its growth and success in the years to come.

East Africa

James Mwangi’s Equity Group to receive $4.1 million for acquisition of Spire Bank

Equity Group is the largest financial services conglomerate in East Africa.

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James Mwangi.

Equity Group Holdings, the Kenyan financial services giant led by James Mwangi, is set to receive millions of dollars from Mwalimu Sacco’s acquisition of financially distressed Spire Bank, as the teachers-backed lender agreed to pay Equity Group Ksh510 million ($4.1 million).

The deal is structured as an asset purchase transaction, backed by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), and will see Equity Group assume control over the assets and liabilities of the troubled bank.

The $4.1-million payment by Mwalimu Sacco to Equity represents the difference between the assets and liabilities of Spire Bank, implying that the bank holds zero value and the teachers have lost millions of dollars after purchasing a majority stake in 2014.

Mwalimu Sacco CEO Kenneth Odhiambo said the key consideration was to stop the bleeding and preserve Sacco’s bottomline for its members.

Equity Group will settle all redundancy costs for the more than 100 employees who will lose their jobs following the deal. The bank’s non-performing loans stand at Ksh2.63 billion ($21.1 million), and Equity’s immediate task will be to step up collections and recoveries.

The process of exiting Spire Bank was not as seamless as the initial acquisition, with Mwalimu Sacco citing the bank’s decline as beginning after the withdrawal of Naushad Merali’s deposits worth Ksh1.7 billion ($13.7 million), which represented one-fifth of the bank’s total deposits. 

The takeover of the troubled Spire Bank may present additional challenges and opportunities for Equity Group, which under the leadership of Kenyan businessman, Mwangi reported profits in excess of $280 million in the first nine months of 2022.

As of today, Equity Group shares on the Nairobi Securities Exchange are trading at Ksh44.95 ($0.361) per share, a 0.99 percent decrease from their closing price on Fri., Jan. 27.

This values the company at Ksh170 billion ($1.36 billion) and Mwangi’s 3.38-percent stake at Ksh5.74 billion ($46.1 million).

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East Africa

Meet Mohammed Dewji, Tanzania’s ‘King of Wealth,’ with $1.5-billion net worth

Dewji showcases his philanthropic spirit through his role as the founder and financier of the Mo Dewji Foundation.

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Mohammed Dewji
Mohammed Dewji. ©Billionaires.Africa

With a staggering net worth of $1.5 billion, Mohammed Dewji, the CEO of Mohammed Enterprises Tanzania (MeTL) Group, stands tall as the richest man in Tanzania and one of Africa’s most prominent billionaires.

His prominence in the African business arena is further accentuated by his position as the head of MeTL Group, one of East Africa’s largest industrial conglomerates. The majority of his $1.5-billion fortune is attributed to his stake in the group.

METL Group, a highly successful conglomerate established by its founder’s father in the 1970s, has an impressive reach across a wide range of industries, including trading, agriculture, manufacturing, energy and petroleum, financial services, mobile telephony, infrastructure, real estate, transport, logistics, and distribution.

The highly diversified company has established itself as Tanzania’s largest domestically-grown corporation, with a presence in 11 African nations, including Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, Mozambique, Malawi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Tanzania.

Beyond his business ventures, Mohammed Dewji also showcases his philanthropic spirit through his role as the founder and financier of the Mo Dewji Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to providing scholarships for underprivileged children in Tanzania.

With a view to tackling the growing food security challenges faced by Sub-Saharan Africa, Mohammed Dewji announced his intentions to go public with an agriculture company in either New York or London in 2023.

He declared that the ambitious $4-billion initiative will receive robust support from top-notch development banks and will be executed via a blank check agreement, delivering a much-anticipated uplift to the agriculture industry.

The proposed investment comes at a pivotal time in the world, as food prices continue to soar due to disruptions in the global supply chain network. This has resulted in a significant hike in the cost of staple commodities, including grains, edible oils, and fertilizers. 

Dewji added that the $4-billion blank check arrangement, which will result in the launch of an agricultural venture, is a fantastic way to bring food security to Africa’s heels because it will capitalize on the continent’s potential to feed itself and the world.

He explained that the agricultural company, which may diversify into soybean and sugar plantations, could provide investors with a five- to ten-fold return over a decade, but it would necessitate “patient, impactful, long-term capital.”

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East Africa

Kenyan banker James Mwangi’s Equity Group receives approval to acquire Spire Bank

Mwangi owns 3.38 percent of the financial services group.

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James Mwangi.

Equity Group Holdings, a reputable financial services group led by Kenyan businessman James Mwangi, is set to acquire the financially distressed Spire Bank on Jan. 31, cementing its position as East Africa’s leading financial services group.

Following approval from both the National Treasury and the shareholders of both banks, the recent development marks the completion of a long-awaited merger.

“Pursuant to section 9 (1) of the Banking Act, the Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury and Planning has granted approval for the acquisition of select assets and liabilities of Spire Bank Limited by Equity Group, led by James Mwangi,” Central Bank of Kenya Governor Patrick Njoroge stated in a gazette notice.

The new deal, modeled after the successful partnership between SBM and Chase Bank in August 2018, is set to be implemented on Jan. 31 and will result in the end of Mwalimu Sacco’s ownership of the bank, which they acquired for more than Ksh2.7 billion ($21.7 million) in 2014 from late Kenyan tycoon Naushad Merali.

The process of exiting the bank has not been as seamless as the initial acquisition, with Mwalimu Sacco citing the bank’s decline as beginning after the withdrawal of Naushad Merali’s deposits worth Ksh1.7 billion ($13.7 million), which represented a fifth of the bank’s total deposits.

Spire Bank’s financials for the first quarter of 2022 showed a loss of Ksh188 million ($1.51 million), bringing the total accumulated losses to Ksh9.7 billion ($77.9 million). In addition, the bank was in default on all CBK capital and liquidity ratios.

Despite a challenging macroeconomic environment that has increased the cost of living for East African teachers and other workers, Spire Bank has pursued a turnaround based on lower costs, loan recoveries, and the conversion of shareholder deposits into equity.

Equity Group, which has the financial and managerial strength to put Spire Bank back on track and pull it out of its recent financial difficulties, will get a good deal by accepting teachers’ deposits, as well as Ksh1.3 billion ($10.8 million) in liabilities and nearly Ksh900 million ($7.48 million) in assets linked to Spire Bank.

The acquisition may present additional challenges and opportunities for Equity Group, which reported profits in excess of $280 million in the first nine months of 2022 under the leadership of Kenyan multimillionaire businessman James Mwangi.

Mwangi, who has been instrumental in the growth and transformation of Kenya’s financial services industry, owns a sizable 3.38-percent stake in Equity Group.

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