One of the most interesting areas for start-ups in Africa are those tackling improving the retail value chain. It’s the unsexy backroom stuff that will help transform the lives of both shopkeepers and the bottom 80% of the income pyramid. Over the last few months Russell Southwood has spoken to Grant Brooke, Twiga Foods; Greg Murray, Koko Networks; Daniel Yu, Sokowatch; and Arnaud Blanchet, Last Mile for BOP.
There are Four start-ups who want to give a better deal to both shop customers and shopkeepers, whilst making the lives of the latter easier by delivering. The logistics piece is already generating an ecosystem for individual delivery people. Because the transactions are recorded, they can lay the basis for both consumers and shopkeepers getting credit.
Twiga Foods (Grant Brooke)
Twiga is the largest distributor of several basic food staples in Kenya, having sold more than 55 million bananas alone and delivering more than 4,000 orders a week. It has introduced cold storage to cut waste:”In a lot of value chains like bananas and tomatoes over 30% of stock is lost between farm and market. The end consumer ends up paying for that because the farmer got paid for that stock. If we can control these losses, that’s more margin for us and more value we can share on both sides of the value chain.”
Koko Networks (Greg Murray)
The company is building an extensive network of Agent shopkeepers who host its e-commerce kiosks – called KOKOpoints – in their stores.
Sokowatch (Daniel Yu)
Daniel Yu’s Sokowatch is an ordering and delivery platform for retail outlets. The idea for it came from living in Egypt where he saw the lack of availability of products in small shops:
Last Mile for BOP (Arnaud Blanchet)
Last Mile for BOP aims to improve access to affordable products in townships and rural areas through the small, informal shops known in South Africa as Spaza shops.