Sasa Africa, one of DEMO Africa’s 2012 top five startups, has launched an e-commerce platform to connect offline artisans to buyers online using feature phones.
“Basically, we target offline vendors, those who are at the bottom of the pyramid and cannot access the internet or bank accounts, and connect them to buyers in the global market place by creating awareness of their products,” Catherine Mahugu, Sasa Africa’s co-founder and technical director, told HumanIPO.
She said that they show the craftsmen how to create awareness of their products via SMS, where the vendors provide the product name, product weight, the price and the materials that it is made of, while registering to the e-commerce platform.
“We need to ask them these questions so as to build content for the website, make the customer understand the product, and also appreciate the cultural heritage attached to the product,” Mahungu said.
To make a purchase, the buyer simply goes to Sasaafrica.com, to select the product they want to purchase. At the other end, the vendor will get an SMS notification informing them that their product has been purchased. The notification further advises them to transfer the product to the local agents for delivery to the buyer upon clearing the payment.
Mahugu said they want provide the first technology solution that gives the artisan more control of the process and creates a direct path to sales and distribution.
“We already have strategic partners including Safaricom, Airtel, Microsoft and even the US market, something that will ensure smooth distribution and a larger market pool,” she added.
Sasa Africa aims to promote equitable and distributed international trade for over 100,000 artisans by 2015 and to help eradicate economic discrimination against women.