The Catalyst Fund Inclusive Digital Commerce Accelerator welcomed OZÉ, Shopa, Swoove, and Tendo, four Ghanaian digital commerce startups, as the second cohort to receive investment and support.
The Accelerator, which is run by BFA Global in collaboration with the Mastercard Foundation and the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), aims to help Ghana’s micro and small businesses become more resilient (MSEs).
For Ghana’s informal MSEs, the companies chosen for the second cohort are solving difficulties in the retail sector. Digital logistics, delivery services, digitization of merchant records, inventory management, and access to affordable inventory finance are among the options they offer to help MSEs shift digitally.
Each of the four firms will get a grant of up to $120,000, as well as tailored expert-led venture acceleration support, links with Catalyst Fund’s growing worldwide Circle of Investors and Circle of Corporate Innovators, and MEST’s in-market experience.
“Informal MSEs, many of whom are young and female, get by with a piecemeal approach to digital commerce, frequently marketing using Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, collecting in-person payments, and manually addressing delivery, which is expensive and places the risk and heavy lifting on the retailer.” “Companies like OZÉ, Shopa, Swoove, and Tendo are solving this problem by providing easy-to-use and affordable digital commerce services, which is accelerating the growth of Ghana’s digital commerce ecosystem,” said Jane del Ser, Program Director for the Catalyst Fund Inclusive Digital Commerce Accelerator.
Initial research conducted at the program’s launch on urban and peri-urban retail shops around Accra found that online and niche marketplaces, tech-enabled integration for logistics and delivery, digitization of inventory management and purchasing, and trust-building solutions are among the most promising areas for Ghanaian digital commerce innovation. The initial cohort — Boost Ghana and KudiGo – focused on digitization solutions.
“Thousands of young Ghanaian women and men rely on Ghana’s informal micro and small businesses to provide work opportunities and maintain their livelihoods.” By speeding the spread of viable digital commerce solutions, informal MSEs will be able to implement digitalization in a way that best matches their needs, allowing them to expand and achieve their goals, according to Chirag Shamdasani, Mastercard Foundation Innovation Lead for Ghana.
The Investment Advisory Committee, which included representatives from Acuity Ventures, Chandaria Capital, 4DX Ventures, Golden Palm Investments, mPharma, and Novastar Ventures, approved each business in this cohort.
Here are the digital commerce startups selected:
- OZÉ enables MSEs to become better businesses and better borrowers. Businesses keep digital financial records on OZÉ which in turn provides them with the insights and information they need to make better decisions. This improves their performance and enables them to access much-needed formal credit such as inventory financing. 97% of high-active OZÉ users were growing, profitable, or both.
- Shopa is redefining Africa’s informal retail distribution and supply chain by connecting last-mile retailers with suppliers and enabling access to stock on cash or credit. Leveraging digital tools and an integrated delivery network, Shopa helps informal retailers to restock and receive delivery within 4 hours, without ever leaving their shop.
- Swoove connects e-commerce businesses with accessible logistics services at an affordable price, through its app and USSD short code, while creating opportunities for youth and female entrepreneurs and revenue streams for households. Swoove already partners with MTN and has the potential to be an enabler for the larger digital commerce ecosystem to address logistics challenges.
- Tendo enables anyone in Africa to sell online with zero upfront inventory – their platform connects dropshippers to wholesalers. The sellers on the platform are able to source products through Tendo and resell items using social commerce tools, such as WhatsApp, arrange delivery, and get paid, all through the Tendo mobile app.