Africa Gets a New Global E-Commerce Platform

April Davis By April Davis | 18 Jul 2018

African merchants are about to gain access to the global stage, as the MallforAfrica app and global logistics company, DHL, team up to launch MarketPlace AFRICA.

MallforAfrica and DHL have joined forces to give select African artisans access to a global consumer base, as they open their new marketplace, MarketPlace AFRICA to all of DHL’s 220 delivery countries.

“People all around the world can buy from African artisans online, that’s the goal”, said MallforAfrica’s CEO, Chris Folayan.

To begin with, the site will reportedly be open to sellers from Nigeria, but will soon expand to include artisans from across Africa, including major hubs like Kenya and Rwanda.

According to Folayan, the site will focus heavily on fashion, including clothing, bags and jewellery, as well as footwear and personal care items. Locally-made crafts, including pictures and carvings, will also be available through the new online marketplace.

To ensure products meet the site’s high standards for merchandise quality, and that sellers are adhering to the marketplace’s guidelines, the artisans are reportedly being vetted online and through the Africa Made Product Standards association. At this stage, and likely well into the future, the site is restricted to products that are made in Africa.

While DHL will provide the bulk of the site’s shipping and logistics services, MallforAfrica will also utilise its start-up tech and delivery services to ensure optimal services for consumers and an easy selling process for local artisans.

Specifically, MarketPlace AFRICA will utilise MallforAfrica’s e-commerce infrastructure, including its payment and delivery systems. These currently act as a digital broker and logistics manager for a number of US retailers that sell goods online to African consumers.

The marketplace is now open, shipping to a number of countries, such as Australia and the US.

The African online venture is not dissimilar to Amazon’s work reaching out to remote Indian communities, giving local artisans access to a global network of customers.

Amazon started hosting workshops in remote communities back in May, after the company lost out on a $16 billion deal to acquire a majority stake in the country’s largest e-commerce platform, Flipkart.

The Amazon workshops have been developed to teach the most talented, least tech-savvy artisans on the art of online selling. The classroom sessions are held in the seller’s own tongue and cover everything from payments and refunds to photographing products.

“All you need to start selling is a bank account, a tax number and an internet connection,” Aditya Agarwal, a regional manager for Prione Business Services, an Amazon partner, told session attendees.

While it’s unlikely Amazon’s interest in the artisan community in the far reaches of India is unlikely to be as genuine as it seems, this initiative does have the potential to open up a new network of unique sellers for the marketplace that could see sales surge in the region.

With some sellers already thinking about teaching their skills to other villagers to keep up with demand, the program could also offer vital revenue streams and digital skills to remote communities.

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