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PH tech platform raises $110M with WB help to grow MSMEs

By: - Reporter / @bendeveraINQ
/ 11:57 AM March 28, 2022

MANILA, Philippines—With the help of the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corp. (IFC), homegrown tech platform GrowSari has raised a total of $110 million to fund micro, small and medium enterprises’ (MSMEs) digital transformation, especially among women-led startups.

In a statement on Monday (March 28), the IFC said that together with other investors like KKR and Temasek Group’s Pavilion Capital, GrowSari attracted $77.5 million during its latest fund-raising, such that the total funding it so far generated was “the largest amount ever in the business-to-business (B2B) and MSME space in the Philippines as well as in the region.”

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E-commerce services provider GrowSari was founded in 2016 to support small-scale physical retail stores, later on expanding to provide credit as well as other services such as bills payment and telco loading, the IFC noted.

“We are very grateful for the confidence shown by existing and new investors as we try to transform the MSME space in the Philippines. Not only will this funding allow us to fuel our growth, but this will also help us bring top global quality talent in operations, technology, and data science into the startup ecosystem of the Philippines,” the IFC quoted GrowSari chief executive and co-founder Reymund “ER” Rollan as saying.

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“We are strategic in choosing investors, and we have deepened our partnership with those who can support this next phase of growth, on core as well as financial services,” he said.

“We remain open to partnering with all other local and international companies as we transform this MSME space,” Rollan added.

Through the funds it raised, GrowSari planned to further increase its client base from the current more than 100,000 sari-sari stores, pharmacies, roadside shops, wet market stalls and “carinderias” (cooked food sellers) nationwide across 220 municipalities in Luzon.

“We have already launched in the Visayas, with Iloilo as the first city, and we will launch in Mindanao soon,” said Siddhartha Kongara, GrowSari chief tech officer and co-founder.

“We also have the largest B2B fulfillment network and will have 50-plus fulfillment centers nationwide. We are fast progressing on our vision to use the GrowSari technology stack to help other companies in their logistics and e-commerce journeys,” Kongara said.

“We already have more than 10 traditional companies that are leveraging the platforms to improve their business operations,” he said.

The IFC said it was also helping GrowSari in “[developing] an accurate credit scoring model, which will accelerate access to credit for stores, spur financial inclusion, and promote gender parity as more than 75 percent of its stores are female-owned.”

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“The pandemic has fundamentally changed how business works. Businesses that ignore digital technology put themselves at an immediate disadvantage. 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,” IFC senior vice president for operations Stephanie von Friedeburg said.

In a report last year, the IFC said the share of sales of women-owned businesses in the Philippines fell at a faster pace in 2020 amid tougher times wrought by the pandemic-induced recession. As such, the World Bank Group’s lending arm for the private sector had urged equipping Filipino women with digital tools and skills so they could capture a sizable chunk of Asean’s booming e-commerce industry in the next five to 10 years.

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TAGS: Business, e-commerce, International Finance Corp., retail stores, technology, women entrepreneurs, World Bank
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