Pezesha takes legal action against MarketForce over “unpaid debts”

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December 18, 2023
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2 min read
MarketForce co-founders
  • Kenyan fintech startup Pezesha Africa Limited (Pezesha) has submitted a petition to liquidate a B2B eCommerce platform, MarketForce Technologies Limited's (MarketForce), due to “outstanding debts.” This move comes two years after both companies partnered to improve customers' inventory and distribution.
  • Pezesha's liquidation petition states that MarketForce owes the firm a significant amount and seeks to recover the unpaid debts through legal action.
  • Furthermore, the court invites MarketForce creditors or contributors to attend the hearing to support or oppose the order. The next court hearing on the liquation order is set for March 11, 2024. 

MarketForce is a Y-Combinator-backed eCommerce B2B retail marketplace launched in Africa in 2018 by Tesh Mbaabu, the CEO and Mesongo Sibuti to help merchants source for and make payments. 

In 2021, it partnered with Pezesha, a fintech startup founded by Hilda Moraa in 2017 for SMEs, to “reach at least 10,000 merchants and help them grow their revenue and sales by at least 15%-25%.” 

However, the partnership is most likely what led to the outstanding debt.

Before the liquidation petition, MarketForce had been declining, laying off 9% of its workforce and exiting about five markets in Africa. MarketForce reduced its workforce in Kenya in 2022, citing a reorganisation strategy. 

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In October 2023, MarketForce downscaled operations in Tanzania, Nigeria, and Rwanda to focus on Kenya and Uganda.

Besides, MarketForce CEO disclosed in May 2023 that the company had reduced the number of routes it covered from 700 to 400 to improve efficiency. It also halted its plans to expand into Ethiopia and Ghana via a partnership with Cellulant.

In August 2023, a year after announcing the close of its $40 million Series A to scale operations, the startup disclosed it was raising $1 million via WeFunder, an online platform enabling individuals to crowdfund startups. MarketForce said it was accepting as low as $1000. 

In 2022, Pezesha secured $11 million in pre-series A funding to expand into more African countries, while MarketForce raised $40 million in funding.

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