Newsletter 2021/03

  1. Women in last-mile

Last-mile: Women in rural Rajasthan in Dina, where ecommerce marketplaces like Amazon and Flipkart do not deliver, are becoming the last-mile link between consumers and sellers for a wide range of products, including large consumer appliances such as fridges, TVs, and washing machines.

Tech solutions: Frontier Markets, a supply chain company, is enabling rural women to leverage their social networks in local villages communities, make sales, and facilitate after-sales service for products. Frontier Markets handles the last-mile delivery with its warehouse infrastructure and employs mobile camps for after-sales services. Each woman is provided with a smartphone and serves 50 households. They earn an income through sales commission, services provided, and conducting rural surveys.

Data driven: Frontier Markets uses the data to better understand rural customers and employs a hyper-local supply chain strategy, supported by a network of 14 warehouses. The company provides after-sales service for brands like Samsung, Usha, and Crompton. 

2. Programme to improve the livelihoods of spaza shops in South Africa

Programme: BFA Global and J.P. Morgan launched a programme to improve the livelihoods of spaza shop owners in South Africa’s townships, following the COVID-19 crisis. BFA Global will support three South African tech companies, A2Pay, Yebo Fresh and Vuleka with innovation pilots over the next nine months. The project will focus on value chains, digital ordering, delivery, digital stock management, wholesale linkages, and financial solutions for spaza owners.

Challenges: Only 1% of informal retailers in South Africa accept electronic payments, and 56% do not have access to a bank account. They also lack wholesalers and manufacturers support, don’t receive bulk discounts, and often have to travel to collect stock. 

Support: Each selected spaza will receive capital and technical support, connecting them with partners and corporate innovators to help them scale their business. 

Spaza South Africa: Spaza shops add R120 billion to the South African economy a year and contribute 35% of total grocery sales in South Africa, according to the IFC. 

3. African logistics startups can play an important role in AfCTA

Tech startup and AfCTA: African logistics startups are positioning themselves to play an important role in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA), the largest free-trade area in the world by the number of participating countries, which launched on Jan. 1. Tech companies can help tackle some of the continent’s biggest issues, such as cutting down on red tape and easing supply chain bottlenecks.

Government and startup collaboration: But startups need support and governments can play an important role in building infrastructure and ensuring ventures don’t get stuck in regulations and red tape. Startups could help governments register, track, and automate border crossings for freight carriers, and provide them with better visibility in the free-trade area.

Trade in Africa: Intra-African exports were only 16.6% of total exports in 2017, compared to 68.1%, in Europe and 59.4% in Asia. Removing import duties could increase intra-African trade by more than 50%. However, much depends on how the agreement is implemented on the ground.

4. Other news

Nomanini raises capital: South African fintech startup Nomanini has raised a new round of funding worth US$1.5 million from new and existing investors. The fintech provider connects financial service providers and fast-moving consumer goods companies to informal retailers.

SA black market: South African retailer Shoprite, lost a sizeable size of its alcohol and cigarette sales to the black market during the COVID-19 sales ban. According to the company, cigarettes in the black market are selling for below excise duty prices. Due to the lengthy cigarette and alcohol sales ban, many South Africans have switched to the black market over the past year.

SA WhatsApp payment: South Africa digital fintech platform providers Ukheshe Technologies, has announced its collaboration with global cloud communications platform Infobip. The partnership will create the first WhatsApp payment gateway, enabling banks, telcos, and fintechs to provide banking and payment services to their customers through a solution called Chat Banking.

Innovation award: Sokowatch, the innovative ecommerce platform that services and finances mom-and-pop shops or dukas across East Africa, has been named in Fast Company’s prestigious annual list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies (MIC) for 2021.

Imperial buys Parcel ninja: South Africa’s Imperial Logistics announced it has acquired ecommerce solutions company Parcelninja for an undisclosed amount. Parcelninja is a specialised warehousing and distribution management business that offers a full suite of warehousing and fulfilment services to South African ecommerce platforms and companies.

EVs : Amazon in India is deploying close to a hundred Mahindra Treo Zor three-wheelers in seven cities. Amazon India announced that its delivery fleet will include 10,000 electric vehicles (EVs) by 2025 in India.

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