How Kenya’s Tesh Mbaabu was inspired by Facebook to start company that operates several African companies

Abu Mubarik November 21, 2023
Mutethia ‘Tesh’ Mbaabu. Photo credit: Forbes Africa

Meet Mutethia “Tesh” Mbaabu; he is an African serial technology entrepreneur who blends commerce and technology. He is the founder of MarketForce, a B2B commerce platform that was introduced to empower over 200,000 neighborhood merchants across five African markets to source, order, and pay for inventory, access financing, and earn more by reselling financial services in their communities.

Mbaabu was inspired to start MarketForce when Facebook was launched and he was fascinated by the influence of the platform in mass communication, according to Forbes. He subsequently learned everything he could about technology and building startups. 

He complimented this by reading the biographies and profiles of seasoned entrepreneurs and also consuming news concerning top startups worldwide. He wanted to build an impact venture like Facebook but Africa-specific. And that was how MarketForce was born.

Recently, the company exited three of its five markets in Africa and said its super-app dubbed RejaReja will now be available only in Uganda after the company discontinued the offering in Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Tanzania.

Mbaabu told Tech Crunch that they were focused on consolidating the resources of the company to build a profitable business by delivering in areas with a strong demand density and shutting down routes that are not profitable.

“After we decided to move towards a path to profitability, Uganda has been our best performing market. We have exclusive distributor contracts with four major manufacturers, and margins are better, enabling us to run a gross profitable operation there; that is why we will keep it active,” he said.

Before MarketForce, Mbaabu started Mesozi, which he registered in Kenya as a software company with his partner Mesongo Collins Sibuti. The mission was to combine industry expertise with tech genius and create business-changing digital solutions, he told CIO Africa magazine. Five years later, he restructured the business with his co-founder, leading to the formation of Mesozi Group, a collection of companies offering tech-enabled products across various industries and focusing on Africa.

In 2018, he and his partner noticed a challenge in the retail distribution of consumer goods and services. “We were approached severally with a similar problem, businesses lacking reliable information on the performance of their field sales teams, products and services in the market. This inspired us to develop MarketForce 360,” Mbaabu said.

As an avid adventure seeker, Mbaabu also co-founded Cloud9xp, an African leisure experience booking platform. They exited to HotelOnline in 2020. Before becoming a partner at Mesozi, he was the Founder and Creative Director of a graphic, web, and digital design agency, Tesh Technologies Limited(TeshTeq). He launched the company when he was only 18 years old.

A graduate of Computer Science from the University of Nairobi, Mbaabu was recently featured on Forbes Africa 30 under 30, Business Daily Top 40 under 40 Men Kenya and CIO Africa Top 45 Most Influential Men in Digital Transformation. He is also a Choiseul 100 Africa Laureate.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: November 21, 2023


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