Online marketplaces are helping in the creation of jobs and unlocking innovations for SMEs across Africa. In 2013, Kaymu marketplace MVP was launched in Nigeria and Pakistan to test the idea and to make the website as robust. Once the team became confident, they lunched it in many counties. At present, Kaymu is available in 30 countries around the world, and 15 countries in Africa.
The initial platform development took place in Berlin at Rocket Internet incubation venue. But right now the development works happens in Portugal and Africa Internet Group. While the website development is happening in these remote places, the Kaymu team hires people on the ground.
Before co-founding Kaymu, Sami Louali was a consultant. Consulting is very interesting and intellectual, but it's difficult to see the impact you are having directly. So that led him to entrepreneurship to see impact. He says, “In this company you make a decision and you see the impact the following week. You are able to measure the result.”
The Kaymu Co-founder Sami adds, “We hire 5 to 10 people in smaller countries and up to 100 in bigger countries.” They mostly hire in these profiles: Seller acquisition, Seller management (teaching sellers how to use the platform), People for Content and SEO.
The Kaymu executive said they look for people “who are eager, enthusiastic and motivated. We look forward to people who understand building something, always smart people, very often over educated"”
Challenges that Kaymu is solving
- To convince sellers it's worth investing time and energy to use the platform.
- To teach sellers how to integrate the muti-device Kaymu selling tools into their daily routine with the mobile version site, the native mobile app and the desktop version.
- Logistics; Kaymu is working with delivery partners while building its own delivery fleet called AIG Express (Project led by Africa Internet Group).
- To shift to prepaid payment from Cash on Delivery by using "Kaymu Safepay" a trusted in-house escrow payment solution.
Talking about Cash on Delivery, currently 80% of transactions for Kaymu happens on Cash on Delivery, the rest 20% happens via bank transfer, MTN and Tigo mobile payment. Kaymu plans to integrate with credit cards in most of Africa, and once Paypal scales in Africa it will also be integrated.
When YourStory Africa asked Sami what is exiting about being an entrepreneurs in a Rocket Internet backed startup, he said, “I have lots of fun. Every day is different. There are so many challenges. And we almost always find solutions, very quickly. I love the fact that in Africa Internet Group everything is quick. It’s impossible to be bored. For me doing e-commerce in Africa is much interesting than doing e-commerce in the US. We’ve a truly global office. Our offices are filled with multi-nationalities. All cultures mixed, so many things you can learn from its dynamism.”
The Kaymu Android app
As Android becomes the most used mobile OS in Africa, Kaymu is trying to tap in that potential by developing its app on Android. It is planning to launch Google map integration to aid local discovery. As of now the app enables the merchants to take a picture of their product and update their listing.
Rachid Mhalla the product owner of Kaymu tells YourStory Africa “We made the app as light as possible and easy to navigate. We’ve tested it in Morocco, Nigeria and Ethiopia. It is light package when you download it and makes the request to server very fast.” In the near future, the team will build an iPhone app.
What will trigger rapid e-commerce adoption?
The current scene shows the trust level hasn’t gone up yet. Sami says, “The major shift comes when people understand the value add of e-commerce. In many countries, the value add of e-commerce is not what it should be because people don't assess the value.” Imagine the value that ‘Comparing Prices’ offers, it is quicker and saves you from haggling and going from shop to shop in order to know correct prices. Also saves you from a long commute just to know a price.
According to Sami , the trigger is the trust. He said, “We’ll keep on delivering good service to show people this is not a joke. You can buy goods from good sellers in good price.”
Competition Kaymu vs Jumia
The African online marketplace is full of fierce competition; classifieds like OLX could be seen as competitors of Kaymu as it had been used by professional sellers. Konga.com’s sister company DealDey can be a competitors. Even Rocket Internet backed Jumia can pose a threat. But Sami doesn’t see Jumia as a competitor to Kaymu, as the former focuses on branded retailers and the latter targets smaller sellers. Giving an example, Sami says, “If Jumia is trying to sell iPhone6, Kaymu will be pushing the iPhone 4 refurbished. You can take us as like the Chinese e-commerce platform Tmall and Taobao. Tmall focuses on branded and Taobao targets SMEs. Kaymu and Jumia have lots of synergy. There is not much overlap.” We found out the average ticket is smaller in Kaymu than Jumia.
Advice for entrepreneurs who want to test in Africa
“Creating a company is (you need idea, money & people) about being pragmatic and going fast. When you've an idea go out –launch and test. There so many business models that enables you to quickly launch business today than what used to be 10 years ago. In early 2000, we were not sure of the internet economics that why the market crushed. Now we know how to monetize the internet. Probably all you need is one good friend and an idea. By taking the plunge you've a lot to win not lose,” says Sami.
Rachid too adds to that, “Africa is not AS mature as EU & US for e-commerce. But Africa Internet Group shows it's possible. You've so many opportunities here in Africa.”