The International Finance Corp. (IFC), the private investment arm of the World Bank (WB), has partnered with local e-commerce start-up GrowSari to scale up and finance its digital transformation as a micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) at the moment.
While GrowSari’s goal is to dramatically boost its operations with foreign funding, the IFC’s participation betrays the intent to more than double its initial investment.
According to the IFC, latest so-called Series C exercises raised $77.5 million, roughly P4 billion in local currency, for the local e-commerce enterprise, and believed the largest amount raised in the business-to-business (B2B) and MSME space in the Philippines and in the region thus far.
“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,” GrowSari CEO and co-founder Reymund ‘ER’ Rollan said.
“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. We remain open to partnering with all other local and international companies as we transform this MSME space,” Rollan added.
The informal sector plays a key economic role in the Philippines where it accounts for 63 percent of total employment but suffers from inefficient and fragmented supply chains.
The IFC said going digital helps supply chain platforms gain efficiency and enables suppliers to expand and spur the adoption of digital platforms in the country.
GrowSari was founded in 2016 as a tech-enabled platform that supports small physical retailers as sari-sari stores, carinderias, pharmacies and other roadside and market shops.
Its services include telco loading and bills payment for local stores and providing MSMEs with credit to ease working capital constraints.
From a base of around 1,000 sari-sari stores back in 2018, Grow Sari aims for a national presence with 10,000 stores in more than 200 municipalities across L:uzon.
“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 fulfilment network and will have 50-plus fulfillment centers nationwide,” said co-founder and CTO Siddhartha Kongara.
“We are fast progressing on our vision to use the GrowSari technology stack to help other companies in their logistics and e-commerce journeys. We already have more than 10 traditional companies that are leveraging the platforms to improve their business operations,” he said.