IFC and GrowSari Partner to Raise Biggest Funding for Digital Transformation of MSMEs in the Philippines

Aiming to increase access to the supply chain for informal retailers, especially women, e-commerce start-up GrowSari has partnered with IFC and other investors including KKR and Pavilion Capital of the Temasek Group to raise funds for digital transformation of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the Philippines.

The latest Series C round was able to raise $77.5 million, bringing the total funding to around $110 million, the largest amount ever in the business-to-business (B2B) and MSME space in the Philippines as well as in the region.

The informal retail sector plays a key role in the country’s economy with MSMEs accounting for 63 percent of employment. However, informal retailers face a range of challenges due to inefficient and fragmented supply chains. In response, digital supply chain platforms can enhance efficiency and enable suppliers to expand, spurring adoption of digital platforms in the country.

“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,” said GrowSari CEO and Co-founder Reymund ‘ER’ Rollan.”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 said.

Founded in 2016, GrowSari is a tech-enabled B2B platform that supports small physical retail stores in the Philippines (sari-sari stores, carinderias, pharmacies, and other roadside and market shops) with tools to manage and grow their business. Currently, GrowSari offers services including telco loading and bills payment for local stores, while equipping MSMEs with credit to ease working capital constraints.

“The pandemic has fundamentally changed how business works,” said Stephanie von Friedeburg, IFC’s Senior Vice President, Operations. “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.”

Growsari plans to leverage funding to accelerate its national expansion. From a base of 1,000 sari-sari stores in three cities back in 2018, Growsari has grown to service more than 100,000 stores in over 220 municipalities across Luzon.

“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 fulfillment 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.”

IFC is also helping GrowSari develop 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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