IFC mulls $10m investment in PH B2B e-commerce platform GrowSari

Photo by JR Padlan on Unsplash.

World Bank Group member International Finance Corporation (IFC) is considering a $10-million equity investment in GrowSari, a Philippines-based B2B e-commerce platform backed by Chinese internet giant Tencent.

In a disclosure, IFC said its investment in GrowSari, a startup that provides digital retail distribution platform connecting informal SME retailers to FMCG manufacturers and wholesalers, is aimed at supporting the growth of the company in the Philippines.

The investment is not the first for IFC in GrowSari. The international lender earlier participated in the Series B funding round of the Filipino startup, along with Singapore-based investment firm Pavilion Capital, growth fund Saison Capital, and Tencent Holdings.

GrowSari, founded in 2016 by Reymund Rollan, Shivapratim Choudhury, Andrzej Ogonowski, and Siddhartha Kongara, is a mobile app connecting small retail stores, or neighborhood mom-and-pop shops, to products of FMCG brands at distributor prices. Products by Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Alaska, and Nestle are included in GrowSari’s offerings.

It also has microfinancing support and assistance options, and e-services in telco and remittance.

“Growsari is digitizing the FMCG supply chain in the Philippines and more efficiently matching large suppliers with fragmented demands,” IFC said in its pre-investment disclosure.

The startup is registered in Singapore but is headquartered in the Philippines. It aims to further expand in the country to reach 300,000 stores.

In 2020, the startup said it served more than 50,000 stores in over 100 municipalities across the main island of Luzon.

In June, GrowSari said it had raised over $30 million in two rounds of funding. Its existing investors also include Robinson Retail Holdings, JG Digital Equity Ventures, and Wavemaker Partners.

IFC said it seeks to support the acceleration of GrowSari’s growth plan throughout the Philippines. It added that most retailers on the platform are expected to be informal and run by women, qualifying it as an inclusive and gender business.

“A successful expansion by the company is expected to demonstrate the viability of this business model, thereby triggering replication by new entrants and traditional players, and therefore promoting faster digitalization of retail supply chains, beyond the company,” IFC said.

According to the country’s Department of Trade and Industry, there are over 950,000 MSMEs in the Philippines, comprising 99.5% of total business enterprises operating in the country. Micro enterprises account for 88.8% of total MSME businesses.

Across the region, startups catering to MSMEs have been attracting investments since last year. In Indonesia, MSME bookkeeping app BukuKas raised $50 million in Series B funding while BukuWarung secured $60 million in its Series A round.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.