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Addressing The Conflicting Details In The Hushed Takeover Deal Between Kenya’s AfricaSokoni & Nigeria’s Bolorims


January 23, 2020

It was a little over a week ago when several digital media platforms across Africa ran a story about a quiet “acquisition deal” between two African startups in the e-commerce business. But the details of the deal may have been misreported.

One of the stories whose headline read thus: “Nigeria’s Bolorims Acquires Stake In Kenya’s AfricaSokoni To Launch Bolosokoni.com”, went on to suggest that Bolorims had acquired a 10 percent stake in Nairobi-based AfricaSokoni to launch a new venture, Bolosokoni.com in West Africa.

But as per new information recently gathered by WeeTracker from one of the key individuals who brokered the deal, the details laid out above, as reported by several publications, are anything but true.

Owned by Nigeria’s FMO Holdings, Bolorims is an online platform for the sale of some of the most sought-after food items in Nigeria. The company claims to have developed an unbeatable track record for over 20 years in offering the best prices and further delivering excellent customer service to consumers.

Michael Tokunbo Orimobi, CEO of Bolorims, was quoted in a report as saying: “Bolorims was eager to invest in the e-commerce market in Kenya to build a cohesive partnership between Nigeria and East Africa.” 

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He added: “We have acquired a 10 percent stake in AfricaSokoni but we will be trading in West Africa as Bolosokoni.

Orimobi also added that this partnership is “part of an expansion strategy considering the unprecedented growth of SMEs and the urge to reach a wider customer base through online stores.”

The message conveyed in the above is that Bolorims has acquired a stake in AfricaSokoni so as to spread its tentacles to other parts of Africa. Indeed, there’s even a piece on Crunchbase about AfricaSokoni raising an undisclosed amount in a corporate round led by Bolorims.

But this is hardly the case. As revealed by Ebrima Fatty, CEO of AfricaSokoni, the deal was more of a takeover of Bolorims by AfricaSokoni.

Borrowing some of her words from her speech at AfricaSokoni’s second-anniversary celebration, Fatty revealed to WeeTracker that some of the information making the rounds in media circles is not entirely correct.

“We have just witnessed the signing of a very important agreement, that will pave the way for AfricaSokoni to enter the huge and very important Nigerian Market, he said in an emailed response. 

“This is the takeover of Bolorims.com of Nigeria by Sokoni Online Ltd (AfricaSokoni). Bolorims.com is a focused and strong e-commerce platform, with a strong vision, a strong customer base and a good understanding of the market.”

He added: “The above is what actually happened. To elaborate further, this is a takeover of Bolorims.com by Sokoni Online Ltd (AfricaSokoni) in exchange for a 10 percent equity stake in Africasokoni by FMO Holdings of Nigeria (owners of Bolorims.com). 

“Under the agreement, AfricaSokoni will operate in Nigeria as Blosokoni.com,  and as an entity under the AfricaSokoni Group.”

To partly corroborate this, Bolorims’ CEO, Orimobi, did put up a post on his LinkedIn page in which he stated that during AfricaSokoni’s second-anniversary event in Nairobi, Ebrima Fatty “announced the expansion of the Company into the Nigerian market through its partnership with Bolorims.

The post also revealed that Fatty and the Global Chairman of FMO Holdings (the owners of Bolorims) executed the MoU for the partnership between Sokoni Online Limited and FMO Holdings Limited at the event.

From the above, it can be gathered that no “acquisition” really happened. It was mostly a partnership that pretty much got Nigeria’s Bolorims swallowed up by AfricaSokoni in a deal that fetches Bolorims’ holding company a 10 percent stake in Sokoni Online Limited.

Founded in 2017 by Ebrima Fatty, AfricaSokoni is a Kenya-based e-commerce platform that brings African consumers and retailers together online, in a swift, hassle-free, flexible, and credible shopping experience, without the restriction of distance.

AfricaSokoni is coined from “Africa” and “Sokoni”; the Swahili word for “Market”. The startup, thus, positions itself as an ideal African market.

There are plans to expand into several other African countries within the next few years and the recent capture of one of Nigeria’s leading food e-commerce firms looks like the first strategic move in that plot.

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