Sokowatch was founded in 2016 and enables informal retailers through an e-commerce platform to order products at any time via SMS or mobile app, and receive free same-day delivery to their store. This makes it easier for shopkeepers to source goods and helps manufacturers ensure that their products are consistently available to consumers. Despite their importance to local economies, these shops routinely stock out of products, have limited access to financial services, and lack proper business management tools. Sokowatch helps to avoid middlemen, banks and retailers, resulting in higher income opportunities for the informal sector shop owners.
Sokowatch has invested in market intelligence to ensure it understand the business dynamics with the informal retail sector, the needs of retailers, and is partnering with reliable suppliers. Sokowatch offers transport to reduce the inefficient delivery of goods and uses ICT system to pool orders and optimise logistical routes. Through a data analytics supported credit scoring system, the company offers credit line for this unbanked segment and a market that is not addressed by the financial sector. The business has a mix of retailer types, which is based on the information/transaction data, and uses transaction patterns to support decisions/orders.
Sokowatch has a network of 30,000 informal retailers in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda. The business main impact is on income increase to informal retailers by streamlining the supply chain of fast-moving consumer goods. The company estimates that it saves informal retailers at least 20% on supply-chain costs for the goods they supply. With limited capital, the informal traders access goods and avoid stock outs as well as high logistical costs associated with the dysfunctional ordering system previously common as every retailer ordered goods on their own. Sokowatch also evaluates retailers to provide them with access to credit and other financial services typically not available to informal businesses.