SasaAfrica, e-commerce. everywhere. for everyone.
This project also has a Changeshop where you can read more about its latest progress.
Go to Changeshop: SasaAfrica, e-commerce. everywhere. for everyone..
Sasa is a peer-to-peer e-commerce technology that connects offline artisans in the developing world to online consumers using a simple mobile phone.
About Your Organization
United States, MA, Cambridge, Middlesex County
Country where this project is creating social impact
Kenya, NA, Nairobi
Is your organization a
How long has your organization been operating?
Has the organization received awards or honors? Please tell us about them
Technology Prize for Global Social Entrepreneurship at UW GSEC sponsored by Microsoft of $10,000; in addition, $60,000 annual support in server space and operational software
Social Impact Venture Award of $10,000 from Sheafor–Lindsay,
the Rice Alliance Business Plan Competition award of $10,000 sponsored by Miller, Egan, Molter & Nelson LLP
Business Development Support for the value of $15,000 from FLS Associates, National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance (NCIIA),
Cambridge's Women's Travel Scholarships, Center for Women and Entrepreneurship in Boston.
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Name Your Entry
SasaAfrica, e-commerce. everywhere. for everyone.
Select the stage that best applies to your solution
Start-Up (a pilot that has just begun operating)
How long have you been in operation?
Operating for less than a year
Which of the following best describes the barrier(s) your innovation addresses? Choose up to two
The Need: What problem are you trying to solve?
Women in Africa produce 60-80% of the continent’s goods. They earn only 10% of incomes. Women face economic discrimination that leads to disproportionate representation in the informal economy, leaving them unable to access financial services such as banks, loans, or credit, and vulnerable to the dangers and limitations of the cash economy. Millions of women across Africa attempt to earn a living by supplementing meager incomes by making and selling crafts - a skill that roots them deeply in culture and community. Due to a costly export supply chain, their crafts are limited to the local economy with inconsistent demand.
The Solution: What is your solution? Be specific!
Sasa empowers craftswomen to become global entrepreneurs. Sasa is an e-commerce platform that connects offline artisans in the developing world to online consumers using a simple mobile phone. With a patent-pending, SMS-based query system vendors create personal online storefronts using our mobile phone business tools. Global consumers can then buy directly from the vendors on Sasa ’s e-commerce website, revolutionizing the supply chain into a P2P exchange. Sasa builds bridges between local crafts markets of the developing world and the global digital marketplace. Sasa transforms the ubiquitous mobile phone into a tool that expands access to economic opportunity for women, giving them a greater share of the profits of the global craft industry.
The Model: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference; include your primary activities
Our innovation leverages existing communications technology and infrastructure to pioneer a completely new marketplace. This new marketplace revolutionizes the way money and goods are exchanged during international trade, creating economic opportunity and increased profits for vendors, savings for consumers, and profit for Sasa .
Sasa ’s Innovations Using Sasa artisans are able to independently create sustainable micro-enterprises using mobile phones, mobile money transfers, and reliable delivery services. Sasa Africa’s innovative technology consists of patent-pending, SMS-driven mobile phone business tools for vendors to automatically upload vendor profiles and products to a P2P e-commerce website for online consumers. Sasa connects artisans to global e-commerce, even if they do not have access to the Internet, a computer, or a bank account. Sasa offers four main innovations:
1. Vendors, with no need for Internet or a bank account, can create and manage their online vendor profiles via their personal mobile phones through Sasa .
2. Sasa facilitates payment, transferring international credit card payments into mobile money.
3. Sasa revolutionizes the current supply chain into a P2P exchange.
4. Innovative tracking tools ensure efficient and secure delivery within the P2P order fulfillment process.
The Marketplace: Who are your peers and competitors? Identify others also working to address the needs you are and what differentiates you from them. What challenges could these players pose to your success or growth?
Design-manufacture collaboratives, fair trade importers and Ebay World of Goods/Etsy, all provide access to US consumers to quality imported handmade goods. Sasa ’s scalable technology provides first-ever direct access to an enormous and entirely new market of micro manufacturers. Sasa will maintain our competitive advantage with retention strategies and evolving and innovating our services and technology. Our patent-pending, proprietary technology developed by our team at MIT positions us as 1) the only organization to provide an accessible international sales service to micro manufacturers and as 2) a service provider to the organizations that would traditionally be viewed as competition.
This Entry is about (Issues)
What solution(s) does your initiative address to better the lives of girls and women by leveraging technology? (select all applicable)
Access to technology.
What has been the impact of your solution to date?
Our mission is to increase access to economic opportunity for women in the developing world to improve their livelihoods. If these women are provided the tools to build micro-enterprises and access global consumers, they will be economically empowered. This economic empowerment enables them to exit the informal marketplace, establish the location, security, and terms of their trade, and contributes to sustainable community development. We have registered and trained over 200 women and girls to use mobile technology to access international markets and build micro-enterprises.
What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?
Our social impact is 3 fold – reduce vocational health risks, fostering micro-enterprises for poverty alleviation, and close the global digital divide. Over the next 3 years, our projected impact is 18,000 microenterprises registered, 7,200 new mobile phone users, 37% risk reduction in the health and traceable earned income of $8,357,029.
What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?
One of our challenges is establishing a growth model that allows for measured, sustainable growth. We have developed an innovative social logistics and growth strategy that will help support an incremental & socially-driven growth model, which encourages a supportive network of vendors.
Our vendor growth strategy is twofold:
-Agent model incentivizes experienced vendors to take up to five other craftswomen under their wing, familiarize them with the platform, and manage logistics until they are comfortable doing it themselves.
-E-commerce education program is used by existing community groups and women’s collectives to introduce the Sasa platform, financial and business best practices.
Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
Over the next six months Sasa will see the launch, optimization, and innovation of our platform, serving 600 independent artisan
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
August, 2012 beta launch with Aitrel and GSMA’s mwomen in Nairobi, Kenya.
October, 2012 public worldwide web launch with DEMO Africa representing artisans across Kenya.
December, 2012 launch next generation query, communication, and income tracking tools.
Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
Over the next year, Sasa will expand its geographic and operational partnerships to move into new countries and support a massiv
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Launch Sasa with further telecommunications service providers to support maximum access to all mobile phone subscribers.
February 2012, expand East African operations to Uganda and Tanzania.
July 2012, start West African operations in Ghana
Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world.
Sasa was born after witnessing the disconnect between the incredible cultural value of developing world artisans work and the limited monetary value they could earn from it. In the existing supply chain, vendors receive just a fraction of the potential profit that could be earned if the tools and opportunity existed for women to competitively enter the global marketplace as independent entrepreneurs.
They have the desire and skills to participate in the global marketplace, but lack the tools. What they do have access to are mobile phones and mobile literacy skills. We have developed tools for trade that leverage ubiquitous communication technology so that anyone with a simple mobile phone could become a global entrepreneur.
Tell us about your partnerships
We have forged strong partnerships with banks, telecommunication companies, and community groups that will make SasaAfrica a sustainable success. Safaricom and Airtel, and the Central Bank of Kenya are just some of the institutional partners committed to seeing SasaAfrica succeed. In addition, we are building partnership with two international NGOs, International Center for Research on Women and MADRE, to measure social impact, grow vendor and consumer networks and leverage Sasa’s impact.
Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list
I have learned vital lessons of success and failure from my previous companies and initiatives and am always excited to share with other innovators. I believe collaboration and support amongst a strong community of changemakers is vital for the success and sustainability of an idea.