Powered by People, a Kenyan-based wholesale e-commerce platform, has secured $5 million in seed funding to increase its transaction volumes. The startup aims to do so by growing the number of small brands using its B2B online marketplace to reach international buyers.
The equity funding was led by Susa Ventures and Golden Ventures with participation from a number of investors including Flexport Ventures, J Ventures, and the founders of DraftKings, Fabric. This brings the total funding raised by Powered by People to $7 million, having previously received support from a number of investors including the Founders Factory Africa, Mercy Corps and the Mastercard Foundation.
The startup links small brands to retailers keen on supply-chain transparency, sustainability and small-batch production – companies that are also pushed by the need for diversity and have pledged to support small traders as they also keep up with the rise of conscious customers.
Speaking about the equity investment, Powered by People co-founder and CEO Ella Peinovich said that the startup is going to continue building up its technology.
“We have new vendor tools we are launching this quarter that will help streamline and automate things to help these businesses take bigger orders and grow. We are also investing in building our senior leadership,” Ella said.
The startup works with over 200 brands and over 45,000 artisans from 47 countries, who sell to retailers like West Elm and The Citizenry, across major markets including in North America and Asia. The business had recorded an annualized run rate of $15 million in total gross merchandise value by mid-March, and they expect to grow this to $25 million before the year ends. Orders on the platform average $1,200.
“We are providing these businesses with new visibility into the specialty retail market in North America. We have also introduced them to wholesale, which we think is the best way to source from any country, and make business sense too,” the CEO added.
The startup also extends up to 50% advance financing to traders helping them to quickly process customer orders. The 120-day facility attracts a 5% interest rate. The startup has already given out $5.8 million in credit to traders and plans to issue an additional $10 million before the end of the year.
Powered by People is also creating regional hubs to ensure quicker order deliveries, tapping the opportunities in drop-ship e-commerce.