The increased use of smart phones and enhanced network coverage has allowed a growing number of Africans to use the Internet in their daily lives. For instance, the Internet users in Nigeria, Egypt, and Kenya are over 110, 49, and 43 million respectively. These figures translate into large market for different goods and services. Unfortunately, numerous entrepreneurs and jobless individuals alike do not have sufficient information on how to make good use of opportunity-filled Internet. As such, this article will provide helpful details on how to start an online business in Africa.
Advantages of Starting an Online Business
- Its costs are lesser than those of a brick-and-mortar store.
- One is able to reach more clients online as compared to an offline setup.
- It is an effective way of operating a 24-hour enterprise.
What Online Business Can I Start in Africa
There is a long list of viable online enterprises in Africa. Some of them are:
1. Fashion products
In the modern era, everyone wants to look good and fit in with the trending styles. One can make money online from this concept by selling items such as clothes, shoes, jewelry, hair products, fragrances, and bags. Depending on your capital and targeted clientele, you can obtain firsthand or secondhand items.
2. Home improvement products
Most people are keen on acquiring items that will transform their houses into homes. There is definitely a huge market for utensils, decorative pieces, and furniture.
3. Baby stuff
Modern parents are willing to go an extra mile to ensure that their children have a pleasant life. Toys, trendy clothes and accessories are no longer luxuries but necessities. As such, one can have a profitable business by availing one or several of these products online.
4. Consulting business
This is one of the largest professional service industries in the world. There are numerous consulting jobs that one can engage in digitally. These includes public relations, leadership, marketing, career, and communications consulting.
5. Event service provider
The middle and upper classes in Africa are broadening, most people are keen on organizing personal or corporate events that will be the talk of the town. You can decide to get a piece of this large pie by offering tents, chairs and the related items, grounds, catering services, or entertainment equipment. Such services have gained demand in weddings, funerals, birthday parties, corporate meetings, and even ordinary family gatherings.
Urbanization and the growing number of professionals are some of the factors that have increased the demand for online food stores. A substantial portion of the working class in the developing and developed African cities lack the time to purchase groceries in a physical establishment. You can avail a convenient solution that stocks the needed items and deliver them to your clients as the Zambian startup, Mphaso, does.
How to Start an Online Business in Africa
1. Register your business
At this point, you should have conducted a detailed market research to decide on the products or services you intend to offer as well as your targeted clientele. After that, the next step is to register the business. Doing so substantiates the enterprise as a legal entity and increases your chances of obtaining funds from individual investors or loans from financial institutions. You will also need a registered business name when dealing with the relevant government bodies and payment platforms.
2. Identify the appropriate online setup
Depending on business, you can either choose to use an ecommerce marketplace, develop your own website, or go the hybrid route. Ecommerce marketplaces that are applicable in Africa include Jumia, Zasttra, Afrikrea, Kilimall, and Bid or Buy. However, using such platforms attracts some charges.
Alternatively, you can build your own website through avenues such as Shopify, WordPress, WooCommerce and BigCommerce. This approach enables an individual to control how his or her website looks like. It is important to evaluate the features of various platforms before making a definite choice. To expand your consumer base, you can also use the hybrid model which entails using an online marketplace as well as your personal website.
3. Decide on your preferred payment gateway
One can either choose to avail a bank account number for the customers to deposit payment or use these online payment platforms for businesses in Africa. Depending on the African country in question, the latter category comprises entities such as M-Pesa, PesaPal, Skrill, iPay, PayPal among others.
4. Start selling
Don’t wait until everything appears to be perfect. Just like the physical stores, online businesses take time to reach the desired level. For effective marketing and sales, use social media, expos, discounts, relevant events, and referrals. Search engine optimization (SEO) is also helpful to increase traffic to your online store.
5. Organize for reliable delivery
Depending on the country you are operating from, you can use a reliable public transport provider to deliver the purchased products. Alternatively, you can liaise with courier companies such as Posta in Kenya, CourierPlus in Nigeria, Rush in South Africa, or any other to deliver to your clients.
6. Expand the business
While the online store is up and running, you should focus on its growth. Outsourcing professionals and services to meet an overwhelming demand is one of the effective approaches of doing so. It is also important to evaluate the consumption behavior of your clientele as the basis of introducing, increasing, or eliminating specific products.
Similar to the other continents, Africa has experienced major innovations that are founded on globalization and technological advancements. E-commerce is one such development. Establishing an online store allows one to reach an expansive customer base. Following the steps discussed in this article assures an entrepreneur of a successful online business.
Faith is our dedicated finance author writing about finance issues in Africa, fin-tech as well as investing opportunities.
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