Rwazi to scale its market intelligence platform backed by $4 million seed funding

In emerging markets like Africa, offline channels dominate retail sales, which are often driven by informal trade and cash transactions. This makes sourcing data on markets, consumer behavior and products a herculean task. Yet, local and international brands require data about market size and value, consumer profiles and their purchasing power, and penetration of their competitors’ products to establish their presence or expand into such markets.

To save brands from entering emerging markets blindly, Rwazi, a market intelligence startup, is out to bridge this gap by providing market insights backed by data collected directly from consumers. Rwazi’s co-founder and CEO Joseph Rutakangwa told TechCrunch that unlike larger research firms, which make inferences based on sample information, the startup seeks unit-level data like the products bought, frequency of purchases and geographic location of the consumers.

Launched in 2021, the startup is now scaling in emerging markets, including in Africa, where it claims to already have a presence in 40 countries. Rutakangwa also says they are available in other markets like South Asia and Latin America.

Its expansion plans and planned product launches are backed by a $4 million seed funding round that was led by Bonfire Ventures and saw participation from Newfund Capital and Alumni Ventures.

“We are rolling out new products this year that support different languages, because this has been a barrier to our growth in these regions,” said Rutakangwa, who co-founded the startup with Eric Sewankambo.

The startup says supporting multiple languages will help them scale in their existing markets and broaden the demographics of the consumers they get data from.

Rwazi gets users to log their purchases through a web or mobile app, and after their submissions are verified, compensates them for the effort. The startup decided to source data directly from consumers after several ineffective iterations that had it using agents and sales teams.

“By using Rwazi, multinationals access data on who is buying what, for how much, from where, when and why, to help them drive revenue and expand. Because brands are getting data from the horse’s mouth and can see how consumers are making purchasing decisions, they can do hyper-local messaging, pricing and packaging,” said Rutakangwa.

Rwazi collects data such as product usage, frequency of consumption, and household budgets and income. What data the startup collects is based on the needs of its customers who use its SaaS product.

Rutakangwa says they launched Rwazi because they had to try to obtain timely market insights in their previous jobs, which helped them understand how frustrating the process could get and how valuable that information could be. He says most available data, often collected by state agencies, is either outdated or focuses on general trends, and lacks the granularity that is needed to make accurate decisions.

Rwazi, which was part of the Techstars Los Angeles accelerator program last year, currently has a network of 50,000 consumers. Its customers include 18 multinational corporations that track more than 200 different products across sectors including fast-moving consumer goods, healthcare, telecommunications, and financial services.

Some brands are using its platform to determine locations for expansion or where to invest to boost their competitiveness. “Others are looking for new markets that are growing and have good demographics — regions where they can start establishing themselves to be able to capture future sales,” he said.