Filipino tech startup Packworks has officially launched its Mobile Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platform for sari-sari stores after a successful $2 million seed round. End-to-end logistics group Fast Group and global private equity firm CVC Capital Partners led the round, with participation from ADB Ventures, Arise, Techstars and IdeaSpace Foundation.
“We started helping 150,000 sari-sari shops. We help communities across the Philippines grow and become more resilient. Imagine how many more we can help with all these great partners. Our vision is now global. We see ourselves as the railway or motorway infrastructure and not as the operator of a gas station or a fast food store. We develop partnerships to provide these services to our stores, such as inventory financing, electronic payments and micro-insurance,” according to Ibba Bernardo, co-founder and chief marketing officer of Packworks.
Packworks will use the new funding to expand “The Pack: SuperStore App”, increase the breadth of offerings and improve its user journey. The startup also plans to create a department that directly engages sari-sari stores, provides additional services with partners, and builds an open platform for financial institutions and brands to connect directly with store owners.
“We have raised funds to help us expand our talent pool and increase our bandwidth to deliver more to these store owners. We believe our product provides a great benefit,” said Bing Tan, co-founder and CEO of Packworks.
Founded in 2018 with five initial sari-sari store partners, Packworks has worked its way to having a network of 150,000 nationwide and aims to have at least 220,000 stores by the end of the year in course and 500,000 by the end of 2023.
The tech startup aims to become a platform for other institutions to help address the challenges faced by sari-sari stores by enabling the value chain and empowering all parties involved within the sari ecosystem -sari.
“At Fast, we are constantly looking for ways to improve our country’s supply chain. The more than one million sari-sari stores in the Philippines are a vital part of this chain, and we believe there is a huge opportunity to create a digital layer to connect these stores with customers and suppliers. Layering Packworks’ digital fabric onto this network and leveraging its emerging data offers exciting insights into creating supply chain efficiencies, especially when combined with the experience and national scale of Fast. We are happy to partner with Bing, Ibba, Hubert and the dedicated team at Packworks to empower more micro-entrepreneurs and transform the way they do business,” said Brice Cu, Senior Managing Director and Philippines Country Lead for CVC Capital Partners and Board. Member of the Fast group.
The Sari-preneurs Companion
Through “The Pack: SuperStore App”, sari-sari store owners can handle inventory, accounting and data collection of their business. They can also benefit from financial products and order supplies at a lower cost from Packworks’ partner companies.
The app is designed with ease of use even in low bandwidth scenarios, its small footprint will allow users to run their businesses more efficiently to meet the high cost of poverty – where shop owners pay the rates higher interest rates and pay more for consumer goods. At the same time, the app also aims to reduce interest costs associated with money management by providing access to electronic payments.
Packworks’ journey began with friends bringing solar panels to isolated communities. The founders Hubert Yap, Bing Tan and Ibba Bernardo had the idea of helping micro-entrepreneurs by providing them with scalable and accessible technology. As a solution for multinational companies in the Philippines to connect to convenience stores in 2018, the following year saw the nationwide rollout of Packworks with just 220 stores with a gross market value (GMV) of USD 400,000. After one year, it amassed 27,828 stores with a GMV of US$30 million, and it reached 130,000 stores with a GMV of US$139 million in 2021.
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