Tappi, an African digital commerce SaaS solution built for small and medium sized businesses has raised $1.5 million in a pre-seed round.
”We are absolutely thrilled to share that we have successfully raised $1.5 million in an oversubscribed pre-seed round of funding – a significant milestone that will propel us further in our mission to digitise and empower SMEs across Africa. Since its inception, Tappi has captured verified reviews on $3 million consumer transactions and engaged with over 150,000 consumers,” read a post on their X handle.
The startup based out of Nairobi, Kenya with operations in Nigeria, aims to digitise Africa’s $20 billion SME market through software sophistication. With partnerships with some of Africa’s largest mobile network operators and financial institutions, tappi has been able to work with over 100 million SMEs offering SaaS and enterprise-grade tools to SMEs in Africa starting as low as $2/month. The organisation’s end-to-end digital commerce stack, comprising Messaging, Artificial Intelligence and Payments aim to be the SEO backbone to increase revenue for SMEs across the continent with the purpose of helping businesses gain visibility, paying for online ads with mobile airtime and ultimately consolidating payments with verified reviews to build online trust. Founded in 2022 by Kenfield Griffith and Louis Majanja, the Kenyan startup has got reviews on over $3 million consumer transactions with about 150,000 users.
The oversubscribed preseed, led by Chui Ventures and Mercy Corps Ventures also has participation from Digital Currency Group, Resilience17, growX ventures, Orbit startups, SOSV and Reflect Ventures. There were also angel investors and advisors from global tech companies, including Google, Salesforce, and Zendesk.
The early-stage funding will further tappi’s mission to empower SMEs to gain visibility and build trust in the digital commerce ecosystem as the company broadens its footprint across Africa.
With this new development, tappi will increase its current markets by building a solid sales force to boost direct sales, leveraging a strong 90% retention rate. The organisation will also build strategic partnerships, building on its existing relationship with telcos like MTN which has seen a 19% MoM growth in business ads and business data bundle subscriptions.
“We are grateful to be supported by great investors who share our vision and the mission to address the untapped potential within Africa’s informal SME markets, particularly in overlooked service industries such as food services, fashion, and agriculture, and health and beauty. We are eager to empower SMEs across Africa by providing them with a trusted identity online to find customers. The current investment will support our mission to make inroads with our customers through direct sales and partnerships across the continent,” Kenfield Griffith, tappi’s CEO said.
Hetal Patel, Director of Investments at Mercy Corps Ventures noted that there are ~44 million (M)SMEs in Africa, driving ~60% employment and ~38% of GDP on the continent. Yet, these businesses, ~60%+ women-led, remain the most underserved and vulnerable to shocks, especially those accelerated by climate change.
“While some may have access to mobile wallets, payment platforms, and online tools, few have a holistic package that offers them the ability to establish a verified digital presence, create a performance record, track income, and leverage these to increase incomes and resilience. Our investment reaffirms Mercy Corps Ventures’ belief in tappi, and is very much in line with our purpose of inclusivity and developing financial resilience amongst SMEs in Africa,” said Patel.
Lynda Saint-Nwafor, Chief Enterprise Business Officer, MTN Nigeria, also noted that commitment of the telco to fuel growth of over 40 million MSMEs through tech-driven solutions.
“Partnering with tappi, we’ve launched MTN Thryve, empowering SMEs to connect with current customers and find new customers via Facebook and Instagram Ads using MTN data bundles and airtime. tappi’s technology aligns with our vision, and we’re excited to be part of SME success stories in our markets,” said Saint-Nwafor.
MTN’s 2023 Africa MSME Pulse survey with 62 percent of respondents from Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, showed an increased reliance on technology and online tools. Also, over 25 percent of the respondents plan to invest in e-commerce and website development, highlighting the significant opportunity in the digital commerce ecosystem.