EME was the first investor into rural eCommerce platform, Ezay, just three months ago. Today, Ezay has raised its second round of USD 200K in order to continue the rapid expansion of its retailer and wholesaler network.
Ezay connects rural mom’n’pop retailers to wholesalers via its platform and provides same day delivery. This is a sea change for these shopkeepers, of which more than 90% are women. Previously they would have to leave the shop to travel to town or convince their spouse to do the same, but with Ezay they receive deliveries to their store and get a wider selection and better prices of products. Starting just three months ago from zero, Ezay has over 1,600 retailers to-date.
Leading this round is Seiji Kurokoshi, the impact investor who pioneered upside social impact bonds for single mothers, and who has a background in direct to consumer (D2C) models. The overwhelming majority of Ezay’s customers are women entrepreneurs and Ezay’s model includes many D2C elements. As such, EME and Ezay are both thrilled to have Seiji’s expertise in both the social and commercial aspects of serving Myanmar’s shopkeepers. This is particularly relevant as Ezay is currently working in partnership with leading Myanmar MFIs to offer finance to these shopkeepers - 75% of which have had no access to finance in the past.
In Myanmar, only around 25% of people have any sort of formal financial services. Ezay is helping provide access to the most rural users and in turn plans to reach out further into communities via these shops in the future. Ezay’s founder and CEO, Kyaw Min Swe, said “I’m pleased to be able to bring people into Ezay that understand and want to support our journey. We’re growing very quickly and having further expertise to aid our growth will help us reach our goals of serving 8,000 retailers by the end of 2020. The current concerns about hygiene and health are also leading to an increase in the need for our services, so we want to ensure we’re there for our customers during these times”.
Seiji said, “I wanted to invest in Ezay as soon as I met the founder, Kyaw Min Swe. His drive to help Myanmar rural communities and his ability to make it happen both struck me immediately. When I looked at the amazing traction that Ezay has had in just three months, my mind was made up. I’m very pleased to be able to support this great company and its mission to improve the lives of rural Myanmar women”.
EME is joining the round and continues to work closely with Ezay as the company expands in geography and services. Ezay was the seventh company to enter EME’s portfolio of eight companies. It is the second company in the portfolio to receive outside investment, following Joosk Studio which raised funds from Nest Tech VN earlier this year. La Woon Yan, EME’s Senior Investment Analyst said, “we couldn’t be happier with the amazing progress that Ezay has made since our investment just a few short months ago. During these turbulent times, it’s especially important for us to support great founders and great missions and Ezay is directly helping with keeping shops stocked and reducing the need for women to travel.”.
Seiji Kurokoshi’s company, Digi Search and Advertising, helps companies to adopt direct to consumer (D2C) models in Japan. He also has COEBI Incubation Office, a AAA incubation centre where he supports and invests in social entrepreneurs. Upside SIBs, mentioned above, are a public private partnership where repayment is made through increased tax revenues.