Kenya’s Pezesha files petition for liquidation of counterpart MarketForce over unpaid debts

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Kenyan fintech startup Pezesha has filed a petition for the liquidation of B2B retail-tech counterpart MarketForce, citing unpaid debts.

Pezesha is a digital financial marketplace enabling SMEs and merchants with affordable productive embedded credit through their lending infrastructure and alternative credit scoring. 

MarketForce, meanwhile, enables consumer brands to optimise how they deliver essential goods and services to retailers and consumers by bridging the information gap in last mile distribution, while maximising efficiency across the sales and distribution value chain.

Disrupt Africa reported in May 2021 the two startups had announced a partnership seeking to bridge the gap between merchants and distributors by providing them with real-time access to affordable inventory credit options. 

Now, however, Pezesha has filed an insolvency petition against MarketForce, alleging a “substantial amount” of outstanding debt. The petition was filed on September 25, 2023, with a next court date of March 11, 2024.

For context, MarketForce has been restructuring of late, amid the general “funding winter”. The company raised US$40 million in funding in February of last year, back in the boom times, but stunningly, certain VCs that had committed funds backed out. In all, US$8 million of that capital was never wired. MarketForce has struggled to raise more capital, announced a bunch of layoffs, and recently turned to crowdfunding to get some cash in the bank.

Disrupt Africa reached out to both parties for comment. Pezesha CEO Hilda Moraa has as yet not responded to our request for comment, but MarketForce counterpart Tesh Mbaabu has done so.

“We have been proactively holding debt restructuring discussions with our creditors through constructive dialogue. Regrettably, Pezesha chose to prematurely file court proceedings,” Mbaabu said.

“That said, during this season where capital is scarce, businesses have to continuously take very tough calls to ensure survival, because that’s half of the job in such challenging times.”

The court notice invites any other creditor or contributory of MarketForce to appear at the scheduled March hearing should they wish to support or oppose the liquidation order.

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