October 29, 2013
E-Commerce Platform Empowers African Artisans
Soko (not to be confused with Soko Kenya) is an online marketplace that harnesses mobile technology to give otherwise unconnected African artisans, an opportunity to sell their wares online, cutting out the middleman and ensuring they receive more profits. PSFK reports.
In Africa, many artisans are self-employed and the majority are women (producing 60-80% of the continentís goods), who face discrimination and a loss of profits because they need assistance reaching a wider audience. Soko create mobile technology that allows these artisans to take pictures of their handmade wares and directly upload them to the site, removing many of the technological and financial difficulties that come with selling abroad.
The technology works with basic texts (although Soko has also developed an app for Android phones), letting artisans text their information to the site, and receive mobile money via text. They then receive cash when they go to a designated kiosk, where they also ship the goods. Vendors do not need to have a smartphone, access to the internet or a bank account and Soko facilitates shipping and payments, allowing artisans to receive a larger profit than they normally would.
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