I would like to introduce you to 2 different people.
One is the retailer of African products in Atlanta, Georgia, in the United States. And the other is a medium-size business owner who is a sole distributor of various African prints, beads and handmade ladies bags in the popular Makola market Accra Ghana.
Their names are Serina True and Paul Mensah respectively.
African product freaks will know that household names like Woodin and GTP are very popular brands of African prints. It’s a fast-growing market segment, not just in Africa, but also among Africans in the diaspora.
According to data from McKinsey & Co., up to 2.1 million Africans in the diaspora and 7.45 million African-Americans in the US and Canada search for and buy African products — food, health products, and clothing.
In fact, it is estimated that spending on African products in the US alone is worth up to $40 million annually.
Can you just imagine what could happen if entrepreneurs and business owners on the African continent can tap into the large and growing demand for African products in the diaspora?
That’s exactly what has happened to Serina True (in the US) and Paul Mensah (in Ghana).
Through Kuueza, a new platform created to connect businesses in Africa with demand outside Africa, Serina and Paul are now able to shake hands across the Atlantic Ocean, do business, and take a slice of the multi-million-dollar market for products sourced from the continent.
Kuueza is taking small African businesses global
Innovation in cross-border trade with disruptive solutions to trade barriers, especially in Africa, will most likely come from the private sector.
Start-ups and small-to-medium sized businesses dominate the African private sector, in both formal and informal markets. History has shown that governments are not good incubators of innovation; they do not have the flexibility and agility that a small startup has. And therefore, strides in technology and innovation must come from the private sector.
This is exactly why Kuueza exists — to open the doors of cross-border trade opportunities to thousands of SMEs across Africa.
Kuueza is a digital hub and Accra-based tech startup that enables businesses, both formal and informal, to trade and build their value chains across local and international borders. The entire existence of Kuueza is to make sure African Micro, Small and Medium businesses (MSMEs) can trade more with one another, as well as enter new markets in the United State and Canada.
Kuueza connects buyers to sellers, retailers to consumers, and manufacturers to retailers using a tailor-made mobile and web app that is focused on business development and the smart application of technology for the informal sector.
The platform also hosts business introductory courses such as “how to start and run your business” as well as “how to raise capital for your business.”
Kuueza uses a direct sales model, targeting local farmers who engage in commercial agriculture and provides them with a consistent supply chain mechanism that helps them sell their produce to various stores and supermarkets in the city.
Also, Kuueza develops standardized packaging format for farmers that meet international requirements for export. Individual farmers can sign up with Kuueza in their local dialect to sell, rent farming tools, or apply for specific training that meet their needs.
Going mobile is the answer
Survey firms GeoPoll and Worldwide Worx surveyed mobile phone users in South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and Uganda as part of the Mobile Africa 2015 study.
40 percent of individuals surveyed in these countries use the internet on their mobile phones. The breakdown of usage by country stood at 51% in Ghana, 47% in Nigeria, 40% in South Africa, 34% in Kenya and 29% in Uganda.
Despite lagging in mobile internet usage, South Africa leads in app downloads, suggesting a higher penetration of smartphones. 34% of South Africa mobile users download apps compared to 31% in Ghana, 28% in Nigeria, 19% in Kenya and 18% in Uganda. Given these statistics, using mobile devices as the primary way for visibility and accessibility that creates access to markets for small and medium business is the most sustainable and practical option in many African contexts.
To start making money like Serina and Paul it is very imperative to go mobile and connect with both buyers and sellers on a single trusted platform that Kuueza provides.
It’s time to seize the future with Kuueza
About two decades ago the Internet was in its infancy. There were no tools for developing websites. You listed your website address on a register which contained, perhaps, 100,000 entries. While it’s tempting to reminisce about our journey using the web to sell Africa as a business destination, it is preferable to look to the future. The future that we cannot change but can only adapt to the change in the horizon.
In Sapiens, Yuval Harari’s fascinating Brief History of Humankind, he describes the irreversible mistake our ancestors made when they gave up the good life of the hunter-gatherer for a life of toiling in the fields and, centuries later, the factory.
One wonders whether we aren’t in the process of making another irreversible – and deadly – mistake. Powered by technology, the world is changing and changing fast. 2020 might just be the year to hit the big number only if we understand and accept the world after COVID-19 is a very different place from the one we used to inhabit.
Are you ready for this future?
For more information visit www.kuueza.com to preregister for the app coming soon on Google play and apple store.
Shop simple. Sell global.
This article was contributed by Maxwell Adew, Founder & CEO of Kuueza, an emerging provider of cross-border trade solutions with a mission to significantly boost the reach and potential of African SMEs.