Three digital companies have formed a partnership to create an online marketplace to help small to medium enterprises (SMMEs) access the rapidly growing digital retail sector in Africa. The intent is to break the barrier to entry for entrepreneurial businesses.
The new online marketplace will have a home on the Loot retail platform from which qualifying businesses can showcase their products and services to a broad and diverse consumer base.
“South Africa’s long-term economic growth will more than likely come from the entrepreneurial and SMME sector,” said Greg Le Roux, CEO of Loot. “With access to the right platforms, markets and tools, today’s small business could well be tomorrow’s super store and we aim to be their economic architect of choice.”
There was a “desperate need to build the entrepreneurial baseline in South Africa to redress our shrinking economy”, the companies said in a statement. While going digital was one key solution, it wasn’t always easy to implement, as the entry cost for individuals and small businesses to create a presence, trade online and be successful, was a barrier to entry.
The first phase of the marketplace will roll-out in conjunction with the Black Business Chamber (BBC). “This digital marketplace is an exceptional opportunity for our more than 2000 business-strong membership to potentially enter the mainstream market and grow,” said Khaya Cishe, secretary general of the Black Business Chamber. “Not only that, but this is a call to action for other start-ups to show they can have the support of established digital operators to access a broader market. It inspires business confidence and we wholeheartedly support this.”
Loot will create an online store for each business and further aid them with a host of behind the scenes practicalities, such as stock monitoring and marketing access to a pre-existing audience.
Volt.Africa will provide the marketing know-how and wherewithal to reach more people and create a presence for the store – via multiple digital platforms (web, mobile, apps etc), a range of integrated digital solutions and its network of publishers.
AYO, through a subsidiary with its highly skilled engineers and software developers, is set to create the supporting network and ICT infrastructure to make this a reality. The core services will include cloud computing, connectivity, as well as data management.
The first stores are set to go live by the end of March.
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