Providing An Online Marketplace For Products Made By African MSMEs
Mokala Tech is a newly formed Kenyan-based business dealing with the use of technology in enhancing social entrepreneurship.
Mokala Tech is in the process of developing an online marketplace for buying and selling of products made by African MSMEs.
Mokala Tech seeks your support in the form of partnerships, as well as technical and financial assistance, for the development of this platform.
About Your Organization
Kenya, NA, Nairobi
Country where this project is creating social impact
Age of Innovator
Gender of Innovator
Is your organization a
How long has your organization been operating?
Less than a year
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Name Your Entry
Providing An Online Marketplace For Products Made By African MSMEs
Select the stage that best applies to your solution
Idea (you're poised to launch)
How long have you been in operation?
Still in idea phase, but looking to launch soon
The Need: What problem are you trying to solve?
This project will try and bridge the digital divide between Africa and the rest of the world, in terms of online space for promotion of products made by African MSMEs. The persistent problem of African products lacking connections to the international market has created a need for innovative solutions to counter this problem.
This project will seek to be the channel through which this need is met, by creating an online marketplace whereby African MSMEs can showcase their products and sell them to the global market. Consumers and businesses alike will have an easy task of sourcing products from African MSMEs in a central location.
This platform will enable African MSMEs to thrive and create more employment opportunities, while contributing to the development of their local economies.
The Solution: What is your solution? Be specific!
To achieve this goal, an online platform will be created that will resemble a B2B or e-commerce website. Mokala Tech will go about searching for MSMEs which specialise in African arts, crafts, textiles, light industrial, horticultural and agricultural products, and will contact them to introduce this new platform as an additional market for their products.
MSMEs which express interest in participation will then be screened, and their products inspected and tested for quality standards. Photographs of some of their products will be taken, and a profile of their business done. This information will then be uploaded to the online platform, and buyers can then see the name of each MSME, a profile of their business, a list of their products with images, and their geographic location.
When a buyer makes an order for a product, Mokala Tech will obtain the product from the respective MSME selling it, inspect and test it for quality, and package it and send it to the buyer's location.
The Model: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference; include your primary activities
The vast majority of African MSMEs are owned and run by youth and women. This group also happens to be among the majority borrowers and users of micro-finance products. Two of the foremost barriers to the growth of African MSMEs are access to capital and access to markets.
The goal of creating an online marketplace for African-made products is to eliminate the second barrier - access to markets. One of the key drivers to the growth of any business is adequate and sustained sales that will bring sufficient revenue and increase the bottom line. This in turn creates a multiplier effect in that with increased sales, the producers will purchase more inputs and thus also stimulate the growth of the factors market.
Moreover, the additional revenue will encourage the depositing of savings and the growth of investments, thereby also increasing the net worth of the producer and enabling him/her greater access to additional financial products such as credit facilities to further grow their business. All in all, this will stimulate both the local and national economies.
The first step, however, would be to provide the much needed access to the markets that will provide a great number of sales for products. An online marketplace will offer access to billions of people who are active online and who are both willing and able to purchase good quality African-made products. The increased demand for these products will also encourage the producers to enhance their creativity and innovation, and ensure that their products are of international quality.
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?
There are a few similar online platforms for African-made products. However, none of them is exactly like the one proposed by Mokala Tech. Some of them include: Red Apple B2B, Bumbou, Africa B2B Network, Africa Trade Market. The online platform proposed by Mokala Tech will have a distinct competitive advantage. It will focus on promoting social entrepreneurship, enhancing local and national economic development, and stimulating intra-African e-commerce.
Aggressive marketing and advertising will be done on social media platforms, search engines and online classifieds, to ensure that awareness and participation of a large market is achieved. This platform will build a reputation for total quality control, excellent customer service and efficient product delivery for all buyers.
This Entry is about (Issues)
What solution(s) does your initiative address to help emerging entrepreneurs and small businesses grow and thrive in underserved communities? (select all applicable)
Access to supply chains, Access to technology, Access to economic opportunity.
What has been the impact of your solution to date?
The solution is still in the phase of development, therefore impact has not yet been measured. However, it is projected that the online platform will assist African MSMEs to grow by acquiring access to a global market for their products. This will result in increased sales, greater incomes, and a sustainable effort at eliminating poverty. Furthermore, it will remove blockages of direct access to international buyers, who have a higher purchasing power and can bring much needed foreign exchange which will contribute to eradicating the balance of trade deficits between Africa and the rest of the world.
What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?
In the short to medium term, this platform will stimulate the inflows of foreign capital, promote economic growth, support social entrepreneurship, and foster creativity and innovation in Africa.
The main beneficiaries of this platform will be youth and women. The youth will get a chance to have their entrepreneurial efforts rewarded, and will encourage them to start their own businesses which will in turn employ more people as they continue to grow through enhanced access to markets and increased sales. Women will be economically empowered to take better care of their families through their businesses. The revenue obtained from sales on this platform will enable women to earn more, contribute more to economic development, and gain more access to and returns from micro-finance products.
What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?
There are a few barriers toward the successful implementation of the online marketplace. One of them includes the assurance of product quantity and quality. Should a buyer require large quantities of a certain product, Mokala Tech will collaborate with all the MSMEs offering that particular product, and gather together the required quantity of that particular product.
Another barrier is awareness of the marketplace by both buyers and sellers. A list of product importers from different countries, and their contact details, will be obtained from the trade ministries of countries outside Africa, so that they can be contacted directly and the platform introduced as a source of products. Contacts of sellers will be obtained from culture markets and trade ministries in African countries.
Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Month 1-2: Recruit a professional website design team to develop the online marketplace platform
Month 3-4: Hand out fliers introducing the platform to identified MSMEs, and create profiles of willing MSMEs on the platform
Month 5-6: Collect contact details of importers from countries outside Africa and introduce the marketplace to them
Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Create awareness of the platform among potential buyers and sellers through marketing and advertising
Co-ordinate between orders and delivery to ascertain excellent customer service and efficient product delivery
Collect user experience reviews and upgrade the platform and service as per the buyers' and sellers' requirements
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.
I have two businesses which I started a few years ago, one dealing with the supply of dry food stuffs, and the other dealing with the supply of African arts and crafts. During that time, I was introduced to an online B2B platform named Alibaba. On Alibaba, I was able to register a profile of both my businesses, search for trade leads, and approach buyers with offers for the products I could supply.
From that experience, I came to find that most of the buyers required products in a quantity larger than I could supply, and they were very strict on quality standards, which also included internationally accepted packaging. It is through my communication and meeting with potential buyers that I realised it is almost impossible to break through into the global market as a single or new MSME, and therefore the idea to create an online marketplace for African-made products came up. The mandate of this marketplace will be to ascertain required product quantity, quality and packaging.
Tell us about your partnerships
Mokala Tech will partner with local, national and international agencies to support the activities of African MSMEs, and to promote economic development in Africa through stimulating and supporting online selling of African-made products. Collaboration with export promotion agencies in Africa will be started and sustained, as well as with international bodies such as the African Alliance for E-Commerce, African Economic Community, UNCTAD, UNECA, in order to obtain technical and financial support for this platform. Partnerships with importers' associations outside Africa will also be formed.
Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list
Mokala Tech requires both technical and financial assistance in order to develop this online marketplace platform, as well as to achieve the required milestones in time and to budget. Mokala Tech is willing to offer technical assistance to support other initiatives. The founder has experience in research, administration, content development, proposal writing, and micro-enterprise development.