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MarketForce Discontinues B2B eCommerce Platform and Shifts to AI-Powered Social Commerce Venture


MarketForce, a Kenyan startup specializing in sales force automation software, has made a strategic pivot, discontinuing its B2B eCommerce platform, RejaReja, and launching a new initiative called Chpter, a social commerce platform.

This shift, announced by MarketForce CEO Tesh Mbaabu, represents a bold step towards leveraging AI technology to empower merchants in Kenya and South Africa to enhance their sales through social media channels.

Chpter, described as an “AI-powered conversational commerce platform,” streamlines the sales process by automating conversations, marketing efforts, and payment transactions on platforms like WhatsApp and Instagram. Mbaabu attributed the closure of RejaReja to the challenging dynamics of the retail fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) market, which posed significant obstacles to achieving profitability at the unit level. High price elasticity within the industry exacerbated the situation, leading to persistent price wars and unsustainable operations for RejaReja.

Despite efforts to adjust the business model and streamline operations, including workforce reductions to extend financial runway, MarketForce ultimately made the decision to discontinue its eCommerce operations, marking the end of a chapter in its journey. Founded in 2018 by Mbaabu and Mesongo Sibuti, MarketForce gained recognition by participating in Y Combinator, a prestigious startup accelerator, in 2020. Subsequent funding rounds, including a $2 million investment in 2021 and a substantial Series A round of $40 million in 2022, fueled the company’s growth and expansion across multiple African markets.

Initially focused on providing enterprise software solutions to FMCGs and financial institutions, MarketForce’s foray into B2B eCommerce marked a departure from its original business model. However, despite significant achievements, including expansion into 21 cities across five African countries and facilitating millions of orders totaling over $160 million in transaction volume, the challenges proved insurmountable in the long run.

Mbaabu acknowledged the shortcomings of MarketForce’s previous ventures but remains optimistic about the prospects of Chpter, MarketForce’s latest endeavor. Drawing from the lessons learned and experiences gained from past failures, Mbaabu is confident that Chpter will not only achieve profitability but also establish long-term sustainability. The journey from SaaS provider to eCommerce platform to social commerce innovator exemplifies MarketForce’s resilience and commitment to evolving in response to market dynamics, ultimately striving to deliver value to merchants and consumers alike in the ever-changing digital landscape.

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