KENYA – Kenyan startup TopUp Mama, which aims to digitise the supply chain for micro, small and medium restaurants in Africa, has raised US$1.7 million in seed funding round, to increase the size of its customer base.

TopUp Mama will also use the funds to accelerate its growth, build out its technology, and scale its sales management tools for restaurants.

The funding comes nearly a year after it closed its pre-seed funding, clinching US$460,000 to now bring its total amount raised to US$2.16m.

Courtesy of both fundraising, the startup enjoys the backing of a number of investors, including Ventures Platform and JAM fund, which led the seed round with participation from Next Billion Ventures, Future Africa, Jedar Capital, HoaQ Fund, First Check Africa and San Fransisco-based DFS Labs.

Launched by co-founders Njavwa Mutambo, Emilie Blauwhoff and Andrew Kibe, TopUp Mama allows restaurant owners to order inventory via its app or SMS and receive their orders the next day.

The B2B e-commerce startup, which has operations in Nigeria too, sources supplies from distributors and farmers, and uses its fleet of vehicles to deliver them to vendors and other end-of-chain users.

It also offers short-term credit in addition to buy-now-pay-later product allows our clients to order more, and in a way that grows their businesses.

Stock-outs, unpredictable prices of farm produce and a lack of working capital are among the challenges that plague small restaurants and food vendors in emerging markets and TopUp Mama seeks to alleviate this pain points.

“The average adult living in Nairobi will have at least one meal outside their home every day, but the restaurants that support this consumption have extremely fragmented supply chains.

“The ability for them to get products for their businesses is extremely constrained. These are the same problems I saw my mother, a restaurateur for more than 30 years deal with and that’s what inspired this business,” saidTopUp Mama CEO Njavwa Mutambo

The startup has also developed tools, including a food delivery platform that helps restaurants better manage their operations and increase earnings by connecting them to consumers.

According to TechCrunch, TopUp Mama has grown 10 times in the last one year, and has over 3,000 merchants (1,000 active) using its platform to make orders every month.

Over the next few years, it is looking to be the go-to supplier for 50,000 businesses in Kenya and Nigeria, as it works toward being the largest grocery distributor in Africa targeting restaurants.

Tech startups solve supply chain challenges

The application of technology in solving supply chain challenges has been adopted world over by startups such as Kenya-based Twiga Foods, which eliminates middlemen by directly sourcing produce from farmers and selling to customers or small vendors, mainly in cities.

Frubana, another restaurant tech startup, which started operations in Colombia, is in the same line of business as TopUp Mama.

Frubana helps restaurants and small retailers to buy produce directly from farmers or manufacturers, also cutting out the middlemen and further bringing down the cost of produce.

Meanwhile, On-demand delivery platform Glovo is upscaling its partnerships in Kenya to support Small Business Enterprises (SMEs) with thw creation of a Kibanda Bubble where Kibanda owners can sign up for free and start using the platform for orders.

Thanks to the large number of Kibandas integrated into Glovo App, users can order their favourite local food from any neighbourhood in Nairobi and get it delivered for free.

According to Glovo, the expansion of the Kibanda Bubble was informed by 435% growth in orders in the segment in 3 months, an indication that smaller restaurants have increasingly taken up online delivery to expand their business.

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