In emerging markets like Africa, offline retail dominates most product sales, driven by informal trade, and cash-based transactions. This makes the sourcing of data on the true market value or sizes of products a herculean task. Yet, local and international brands require data, for instance, on market size and value, consumer profiles and their purchasing power, and penetration of their competitors’ products, to either establish their presence or expand into such markets.
To save brands from getting into emerging markets blindly, Rwazi, a market intelligence startup is out to bridge this gap, by providing these market insights backed by data collected directly from consumers. Rwazi co-founder and CEO Joseph Rutakangwa told TechCrunch that unlike larger research firms, which make inferences based on sample information, the startup seeks unit-level data like the product sizes bought, frequency of purchases, and geographic location of the consumers.
Launched in 2021, the startup is now scaling in emerging markets, including in Africa, where it claims to already have a presence in 40 countries. Rutakangwa also says they are available in other markets like South Asia, and Latin America.
Its expansion plans, and planned new product launches, are backed by a $4 million seed funding closed in a round led by Bonfire Ventures, with participation from Newfund Capital, and Alumni Ventures.
“We are rolling out new products this year that support different languages because this has been a barrier to our growth in these regions,” said Rutakangwa, who co-founded the startup with Eric Sewankambo.
The startup says multi-language support will help them scale in their existing markets, while broadening the demographic data of their consumer data.
Consumers use a web or mobile app to log their purchases, and receive compensation for verified submissions on Rwazi’s platform.
The startup’s settled on sourcing data directly from consumers after several ineffective iterations including using agents, and sales teams.
“By using Rwazi, multinationals access data on who is buying what, for how much, from where, when and why, to help them drive revenue and expand. And because brands are getting data from the horse’s mouth and can see how consumers are making purchasing decisions, they can do hyperlocal messaging, pricing, and packaging,” said Rutakangwa.
The data collected by Rwazi includes product usage, frequency of consumption, and household budgets and income. The data is based on the needs of the subscribers using its SaaS product.
Rutakangwa says they launched Rwazi informed by the need for up-to-date data compelled by frustrations they encountered while trying to obtain timely market insights in their previous jobs. He says the most available data, often by state agencies, is either outdated, or focuses on general trends, and lacks the granular data that is needed for accurate action. The former African Leadership University (Mauritius) students then embarked to fill this gap.
Rwazi, which was part of the Techstars Los Angeles accelerator program last year, currently has a network of 50,000 consumers, and 18 multinationals tracking more than 200 different products, in various sectors including fast-moving consumer goods, healthcare, telecommunications, and financial services.
Some brands are using its platform to determine locations for expansion, or investments to their competitiveness.
“Others are looking for new markets, that are growing, and have good demographics, regions where they can start establishing themselves to be able to capture future sales,” he said.