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Kenyan Fintech start-up PBP raises US$1.5m to secure scale

Kenyan Fintech start-up firm Powered by People (PBP), with a wholesale platform for the creative manufacturing producers and buyers, has raised US$1.5-million in seed funding in just five weeks over the 2020-2021New Year period to support its aggressive plan to secure scale.

The round was led by Matt Kalish from DraftKings and TBD Angels, among other angel investors who are affiliates with DraftKings, Skillz, Uber, as well as impact investors, Good+Well.

PBP’s previous investors and financial supporters include Founders Factory Africa, Mercy Corps and the Mastercard Foundation.

The B2B platform is a mobile first, distributed manufacturing system offering online tools, financing solutions, and a B2B marketplace to the small and mid-sized enterprises in the creative manufacturing and handmade sector. The platform connects handmade and natural cosmetic producers across Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Matt Kalish, President and Co-Founder of DraftKings, said, “I invested in Powered by People because I believe there is a tremendous global demand for quality handmade goods made locally – and not mass produced - across textile, furniture, art and more.”

According to Research and Markets Ltd, the Boutique manufacturing is growing at 20% per annum and is on track to reach US$1-trillion of the US$25-trillion retail market by 2023.

Ella Peinovich, Co-Founder and CEO of PBP, said: “The landscape for B2B marketplaces has changed, we are building the future of retail to be more digital, more diverse, and more transparent. Off of a fresh round of funding, we will be able to support access for a whole new class of artisans to compete in the mainstream retail market.”

PBP joined Founders Factory Africa's venture scale program in September 2020 and the investment readiness support was instrumental in getting PBP ready to go to market. The venture launched PBP PRODUCE, a mobile-to-web production coordination tool, to enterprises supporting over 5,000 producers to work from home during COVID restrictions; and scaled up PBP FINANCE to unlock US$481,000 in purchase order financing.

At the end of the year, the business developed the PBP MARKET - set to meet the increasing demand for authentic and diverse goods by the global retail market. PBP also released an innovative report on Creative Manufacturing and Handmade Sector, sponsored by the Mastercard Foundation.

“We are the bridge that empowers mainstream retailers, designers, and brands to source diverse and exclusive products from around the world - across home décor & accessories, fashion and beauty products - some of the fastest growing sectors in retail,” said Peinovich, “We are honoured to be a technology partner for the 100s of millions of boutique manufacturers globally looking to move online.”

PBP is now looking to form more relationships with more retailers across Africa and globally.

Kenya’s e-commerce opportunity

In mid-February 2021 Patrick Ndegwa, SEACOM Business Sales Lead for SEACOM East Africa, noted that Kenya’s e-commerce revenue is projected to hit US$1.5-billion in 2021, and that digital platforms are seizing this opportunity. There is extensive investment in strengthening and improving digital infrastructure to capitalise on the opportunity.

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