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This Sari-Sari Store Startup Is Expanding to Visayas and Mindanao After Securing $77.5 Million in Funding

Growsari aims to serve the 1.1 million sari-sari stores in the Philippines.
IMAGE GROWSARI
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With over $110 million (approximately P5.8 billion) in valuation, Filipino B2B startup Growsari is one of the biggest local startups in the country and only the second to raise over $100 million in funding without major backing from a national conglomerate. After securing $77.5 million (approximately P4.1 billion) in Series C, Growsari will now be focusing on expanding operations in Visayas and Mindanao and reaching over 300,000 sari-sari stores in the country by 2023.

Growsari is a B2B startup that connects sari-sari stores, carinderias, eateries, pharmacies, and other roadside shops directly with suppliers, allowing them to purchase products at lower rates to stock up their shops. Through its app, which is completely free for mom-and-pop store owners, partner stores can purchase in bulk and have the goods delivered to their doorstep. This model allows sari-sari stores to skip transportation costs and markup prices in supermarkets and palengkes.

Since it was founded in 2016, Growsari has gained a considerable following among sari-sari store owners, and the startup’s tindera community is one of the biggest communities in the MSME space, according to Growsari chief marketing officer Maimai Madrid. The company will now be expanding further in Visayas and Mindanao, particularly in the cities of Iloilo, Bacolod, Cebu, Davao, and General Santos. As of 2022, Growsari has a presence in 20 key cities and 400 municipalities. 

“We are proud to share that we are on track in fulfilling our mission of creating a positive socio-economic impact on the lives of more MSME owners and the communities they serve nationwide,” said Growsari chief executive and co-founder Reymund 'ER' Rollan.

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“As we get farther out into the provinces, a lot of sari-sari store owners are underserved given the challenges of FMCG distributors to physically reach them. Digital inclusion in these areas has also been slower. So we see this as a huge opportunity where Growsari can come in to make a difference in the lives of small physical retail store owners.” 

Small mom-and-pop shops like sari-sari stores are, according to Growsari, “underrepresented and underserved, mainly because they are technologically marginalized and logistically difficult to organize as a group.” Sari-sari stores are known to make little margins and many are not equipped with formal training on how to run a business. Sari-sari stores are also the communal hubs of Philippine society. Because of this, social impact is a necessity, not a sideline, for Growsari. Rollan stands by the belief that “if sari-sari stores don’t grow, then our business won’t grow.” 

On the supplier side, FMCG companies have historically struggled to reach sari-sari stores due to distance, infrastructure, and small basket sizes. The startup addresses this by coordinating with suppliers, trucks, and sari-sari stores to reach the tindera community. 

“When we consider the extent of the presence and reach of sari-sari stores, then we can see that they are easily the single largest distribution channel in the country,” explains Siddharta Kongara, co-founder and chief technology officer of Growsari.

Once Growsari reaches its 300,000 partner store milestone, the startup will have tapped over 30 percent of the Philippines' 1.1 million sari-sari store market. On the tech front, the startup will be expanding its financial services with the launch of its digital payments QR code. Other services on the app include telco credits, money remittance, bills payment, e-commerce, WiFi, and other e-services that serve as added revenue streams for sari-sari store owners.

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Anri Ichimura
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