E-COMMERCE startup GrowSari said it raised $77.5 million in its latest funding round, in partnership with the International Finance Corp. (IFC).
The company, which hopes to supply tools that will help digitalize small businesses in the Philippines, said the total is the largest ever raised in the Philippines and Southeast Asia in the business-to-business and micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSME) space.
“We are very grateful for the confidence shown by existing and new investors as we try to transform MSMEs in the Philippines,” GrowSari Chief Executive Officer Reymund Rollan said.
Other investors in the funding round were KKR and the Pavilion Capital unit of Singapore’s Temasek Group.
The startup was founded in 2016 to provide technical tools for managing mom-and-pop stores, small catering businesses, pharmacies, and market shops. It offers telco load and bill payment channels for stores and provides credit to ease working capital constraints.
GrowSari hopes to use the funds to expand nationally. To date, it serves more than 100,000 small retail stores in 220 municipalities across Luzon, a major expansion from the 1,000 stores in three cities in 2018.
“We have already launched in the Visayas, with Iloilo as the first city, and we will launch in Mindanao soon. We also have the largest B2B fulfillment network and will have 50-plus fulfillment centers nationwide,” said GrowSari Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Siddhartha Kongara.
The IFC helped the startup develop a credit-scoring mode to help spur financial inclusion and promote gender inclusivity, after finding that more than 75% of store owners are female.
“Our investment will enable GrowSari to expand digital adoption and financial services for MSMEs, which is critical to keep them competitive, and for a resilient and inclusive recovery,” Stephanie von Friedeburg, IFC senior vice-president, operations.
MSMEs employ 63% of the Philippine workforce. However, the sector was among the hardest hit by the pandemic, and requires assistance in modernizing. — Luz Wendy T. Noble