The impact of the Covid 19 pandemic is no doubt a big hit and unexpected blow to the global economy. Many superpowers are bleeding and for any economic recovery to happen businesses around must return to operation.
With the ‘new normal’ of social distancing, limited contact with customers, and still more Covid-19 cases reported globally on a daily basis, a quick recovery seems to be out of sight.
And the severity and uncertainty of the decision has put many businesses in a tough spot.
So, where do business owners go from here?
Imagine siting in your rocking chair on a weekend, seated in the garden with a glass of wine in your hand, perusing your phone and checking all the orders you have received from both consumers and retailers who already purchased your product without even opening your store or have a physical interaction with them.
Think about what it feels like when you cannot open your mechanic shop because of the pandemic and suddenly you receive a call on your phone about a broken down car on the highway that needs your services.
What if your salon is shut down but you can still receive text messages on your phone from potential customers who need your services for a makeover?
How about being a supplier of South African wines and champagne without a physical brick-and-mortar store — as a matter of fact you can open your e-Commerce shop right on your phone and sell to consumers in your locality.
How can we make this a reality?
The development of compelling, relevant, Afro-centric technology for small and medium businesses presents a threefold challenge to SMEs and technologists alike.
The first is the question of “why B2B ecommerce on a continent with significant socio-political, security, and economic challenges, why should we embrace ecommerce or mobile apps?
Efforts to bridge the digital divide in African economies have tended to focus on increasing access to ICTs: Why not start with the development of a functioning, robust technology-enabled trade system?
According to the IMF, by 2035 there will be more young Africans in the working age population (15–64 years old) than in the rest of the world combined. Therefore, improved entrepreneurship skills and training are vital to developing the capabilities required to transition to advanced economic activities.
The disparities in education access between geographic regions, racial groups and social classes have been exacerbated by the digital divide.
The question is not as glib or apparent as it may first seem: explaining an Africa macro perspective on why ecommerce, especially B2B, that can help small and medium businesses and lift individuals out of poverty thus contributing to socio economic development of the continent is a worthwhile intervention for Africa’s sometimes fragile trade ecosystems but ideally, each region, country, district, community would have its own approach and answer for this question.
The second question is often “what will it take to make ecommerce work in Africa?”. Here, issues of internet access, platform, device, agency, stakeholders, financing, infrastructure, capabilities and opportunities enter the debate.
In his 2015 annual letter, Bill Gates discussed his belief that technology will aid, rather than replace, but said that overcoming structural issues — such as poverty and the gender opportunity gap — is crucial to making sure new technology developments can actually have an impact on Africa economy.
As a result, ecommerce in Africa cannot develop in the same way as in more advanced economies. This article thus devotes most of its attention to the question of what ecommerce development will look like in Africa.
Kuueza is the answer
Kuueza a digital hub that enables simple trade solutions within Africa and beyond. It seeks to offer a high-level overview of some of the emerging patterns in ecommerce B2B-B2C ways of working that are contributing to innovative and sustainable answers to this question.
Again, the complexity of specific national contexts changes the optimal approach and dominant narrative substantively. Kuueza focuses on recurring themes and perspectives on what it will take to operationalize ecommerce across the continent and provide sustainable solutions by connecting Africa’s informal and formal business sectors into a digital marketplace to promote socioeconomic growth.
The third – and arguably most urgent – question of ecommerce B2B stream is “how do we make this real?”.
The policy makers, stakeholders, SMEs and game changers like Kuueza meet each other at this junction between the “why” and the “what”; the needs and the tools.
Positing on hypothetical opportunities, reflecting on real-world challenges, and drawing lessons from successes and shortcomings elsewhere only goes some way in understanding how to practically make the changes required to activate large-scale Africa ecommerce B2B to work.
Tech startups like Kuueza need collaboration to answer this question. To do this, there is a need to consider not just how new technologies and operating models can be developed and integrated but also how new approaches, awareness practices and pedagogies that can be created and mainstreamed in response to an increasingly digital and connected world.
Building the foundational skills of SMEs, increasing visibility and accessibility, is very key to make this work. The Kuueza platform does not just offer a technological solution but speaks the language of the African continents and offer tailor-made solution to a specific trade barrier and increase sales for business in the remote and forgotten corners through its Platforms. As a user or merchant, both formal and informal African businesses.
Kuueza hub enables simple trade solutions within Africa, the United States, and beyond.
Kuueza works with mobile money, Visa and other simple payment gateways. Users can conveniently track shipments via FedEx or arrange for self-shipping using other fully licensed & insured couriers.
Kuueza offers a unique buying and selling experience that enables merchants to list products and services in various categories on a single trusted platform using your mobile phone. It simplifies and enhances the online shopping experience.
Merchants can easily connect with international buyers or other sellers, share or suggest products and services to their friends and professional network. Kuueza enables tourists to easily locate vendors and patronize businesses that are normally considered out of sight, out of mind. Kuueza mobile app encourages users to chat with merchants for business-to-business (B2B) networking.
There is an African proverb that says, “if you want to go fast go alone, but if you want to go far go together.”
Let us go together with Kuueza.
Shop simple. Sell global.
The app is coming soon on Google Play and the Apple Store
For more information visit www.kuueza.com.
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.