Ramani, a Tanzanian startup focused on consumer-packaged goods (CPG) supply chains, plans to introduce new financial services as it expands its operations in the East African country after raising $32 million in a Series A debt-equity round.
The latest round, which follows an undisclosed seed funding round last year, was led by Flexcap Ventures and serial entrepreneur Jared Schreiber, while debt was raised from undisclosed investors.
The Y Combinator (W20)-backed startup, co-founded in 2019 by Martin Kibet (COO) and brothers Iain Usiri (CEO) and Calvin Usiri (CTO), provides inventory management systems, procurement and point-of-sale software to its network of micro distribution centers (MDCs), enabling them to enhance the management of their inventory and operations.
These MDCs are critical in ensuring consumer goods reach the market, but most still use the unreliable manual processes that are tedious, prone to errors and fail to bring supply chain visibility.
“We deploy our app on a specialized point-of-sale device and a printer, which salespeople use in warehouses to manage their inventory and operations. The data is also accessible on computers and WhatsApp,” Usiri, the CEO, told TechCrunch.
By leveraging Ramani’s technology, the MDCs can digitally track their operations easily and get financing based on the performance of their businesses.
The startup recently received its lending license from the Bank of Tanzania and has already introduced a 30-day inventory financing product in the market. Plans are underway to launch other products including a 14-day revolving line of credit allowing distributors in its network to borrow up to $500 interest free.
“The consumer-packaged goods supply chain is one of the biggest in Africa, but it is grossly underserved by the current financial service providers. That is why we are building bespoke financial services for the supply chain,” said Usiri.
“We are currently focused on leveraging financial services in order to monetize because we provide our software for free,” Usiri said, adding that they see a $1 billion revenue opportunity on the lending side, across Tanzania, its only market currently, and in neighboring countries Kenya and Uganda.
Ramani also plans to grow its number of partner brands, which are key to the expansion of its distributor network.
“Brands introduce us to the distributors that they have and are a big part of what we do,” said Usiri.
“By stitching together all the real-time inventory of each of their resellers and unifying it into a single brand view, brands are able to manage their networks better and they can see downstream where their products are being sold. It informs production and marketing plans too.”
Usiri says since launch, Ramani has experienced immense growth as value of goods sold through the platform hit $72 million last year, following a 68% month-over-month growth in gross merchandise value (GMV) during the period. This year’s month-over-month GMV growth is at 36%.
Ramani says it currently has 100 active MDCs using its platform, and they expect this number to grow exponentially as they double down their operations in Tanzania and introduce new services.
“Our big vision is to create this cloud network of micro distribution centers all across Africa as we have built software to help support Africa’s trillion-dollar consumer-packaged-goods supply chain,” said Usiri.