Africa is seen as the next trade front, after the entry into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area, which created the largest unrestricted trade area in the world. However, while trade liberalization aims to stimulate intra-regional trade, its take-off depends on major infrastructure investments to ensure supply chain efficiency. Further progress relates to how quickly market information can be disseminated to key stakeholders including traders, regulators and financiers.
realize emerging opportunities, Zitova, a Kenyan startup, deploys technologies that make information about market opportunities more accessible to traders. It is now building a network of large, medium and small enterprises, which will be exploited to derive insights and insights into market opportunities and risks.
“We are building a trust network that allows, for example, a company in Kenya to know who you are doing business with in a country like Nigeria and South Africa. This trust network can only be built with the ability to collect verifiable data.” Bramwell Mwalofounder and CEO of Xetova, adding that his company operates the largest business and supply chain information support network.
To ensure that trade trends, reports, and highlights are real, Xetova, founded in 2019, puts its network on data from its Insights service, which companies use to interpret data on supply chains, spending, revenue, and overall management performance into actionable insights.
The Insights service is the first in the Xetova group that customers subscribe to before other services including trade finance and links to extensive trade networks.
Mwalo’s interest in the African trade was prompted by the research he was a part of which showed that entrepreneurs had a high chance of success if they had access to large purchase deals and less dispersed distribution channels.
“This discovery made me curious about business-to-business trade, large supply chains, and how entrepreneurs in Africa access big buying opportunities. I developed this theory that data can dramatically drive trade and how companies access opportunities and manage risk and engagement,” Mwalu said. to each other.”
“Then my PhD thesis explored ways of accessing B2B data, in the sense that virtually everyone in Africa trying to do business should have access to data on opportunities, risks and networks. This information needs to be readily available to the market and where it is available, it changes dramatically.” How to make a trade, because at the end of the day, we perceive risk differently.
In the middle of his studies, Mwalo took a leave of absence to join Kountable, a financier who provided loans to small and medium enterprises banned from formal institutions due to lack of collateral.
In his two years as CEO at Kountable, he says, they funded $32 million worth of deals, backing 200 entrepreneurs in several countries including Kenya and Rwanda. However, it has proven difficult for them to expand lending, even with a $150 million credit limit, due to the lack of verifiable data on many institutions’ operations.
“In the beginning, the business went really well, and the uptake was great. The challenge came when we needed to expand beyond 200. Every time we started to involve companies outside our network, we lost money. Their needs were growing very quickly, faster than our capacity,” Mwalo said. to exercise due diligence.
“That point is when I realized that the biggest problem with intra-African trade is not capital, it’s information asymmetry in terms of value, security and returns,” he said.
This experience led him to launch Xetova to ensure companies understand and unlock the value of the data they hold, use it to inform solutions to their challenges, and show how it can be harnessed at scale for business intelligence that can open up new partnerships and larger markets. This is in addition to enabling businesses to obtain loans based on their own data and insights, which lenders within Xetova networks use to offer tailored loans.
Besides serving enterprises, Xetova counts government agencies among its clients, with whom it works to improve efficiency in healthcare. For such entities, it provides insights into consumption, distribution, procurement spending, supplier and payment performance.
The company claims to have generated $2.45 million in revenue by December last year, and has facilitated trade financing of up to $7 million.
Xetova is looking to grow its client base from the current 60 large companies to 300 companies in the next 18 months.
The company aims to register 10 major distributors in Africa, to increase access to more than 10 of the existing 7 countries, and to facilitate trade financing of $20 million.
Xetova, which raised $4 million in a seed round of debt last year led by South Africa’s TRT Investments, is also launching a fellowship program for potential investors.