SENEGAL – Maad, a B2B e-commerce startup, has secured US$3.2 million in debt-equity financing to bolster its growth in the Western Africa country and to explore fresh opportunities in the wider Francophone region.

Ventures Platform led the seed round, which included Seedstars International Ventures, Reflect Ventures, Oui Capital, Launch Africa, Voltron Capital, and Alumni Ventures. The round raised US$900,000 in debt financing from French DFI Proparco and local banks.

Maad’s end-to-end distribution platform enables informal retailers (mom-and-pop stores) to source fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) directly from partner suppliers. This tackles key issues they face, including stockouts and the high cost of inventory brought by multiple levels of dealers.

Sidy Niang, the CEO, and Jessica Long, the COO, launched Maad in 2020. Initially, it was a data collection provider before pivoting to building software to help companies manage their internal distribution. 

How FMCG suppliers utilized the software to deal with distribution challenges inspired the launch of the B2B e-commerce business in September 2021.

Watching our clients use our software for their distribution inspired us. The software provided a lot of value, and we could imagine much more if we put all the products that small shops buy on the same platform,” Niang said.

Customers make orders through the startup’s call center, field agents, or the app, which accounts for the bulk (75%) of the orders. The startup then fulfills the orders from its warehouses using its in-house delivery service to reduce costs and ensure the consistency of its services.

The startup has grown to serve 6,500 active retailers through its network of 80 suppliers and claims to have reached a monthly GMV of US$3 million. 

Maad says working closely with suppliers has enabled it to have exclusive access to particular products and to price items competitively, which draws the informal retailers. 

These retailers are an essential channel for manufacturers to sell products. Due to their proximity to customers, they deliver about 80% of household retail in sub-Saharan Africa.

Maad has raised funding at a time when investors continue to shy away from backing B2B e-commerce businesses in Africa due to their thin margins and capital-intensive business model. 

This has forced entities such as Wabi, Wasoko, and MaxAB to scale back, and the likes of Zumi and YC alumni MarketForce’s RejaReja have shut down. 

This is after the sector experienced a funding boom in 2021 and 2022.

The startup, which claims to have a first-mover advantage in Senegal, plans to expand its coverage to include remote places within the country and is keen on entering a new market within Francophone regions by the end of the year. It also plans to introduce a buy now, pay later (BNPL) service to enable shop owners to access inventory on credit.

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