In recent times, there has been a high demand for fast delivery of goods and services in Nigeria, and due to the ease that online shopping apps bring; the high demand has resulted in the use of such apps for shipping services.
Rahima Dokaji, Kano
Je-commerce demand was further boosted during the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, where the Covid-19 lockdown and safety protocols made it stressful for people to travel to markets and malls. This and security reasons have given rise to its popularity in Nigeria, especially in the north, where the culture deprives women of many outdoor activities.
Based on this, Saratu Buhari, a Kano-based e-commerce entrepreneur, is changing the business narrative in northern Nigeria, particularly in Kano State where, culturally, women are seen as “the gender sitting at the house”, or in rare cases take simple work at home or in education.
In this encounter with Daily Trust Saturday, Saratu said she ventured into e-commerce to digitize markets in Nigeria; tackling the problem of disorganized and disoriented marketing using the ever-changing world of technology, while creating a safe place where people feel comfortable shopping online, knowing that there is a standard with the product and insurance.
On how she conceived the idea of starting the business and building her e-commerce app WeKasuwa, she said, “Because the markets we have in Nigeria are not quite formal, the share of almost 60% of the informal markets are in Nigeria , but there hasn’t been any information on the markets that we have because it’s mostly cash based And if you notice that so many people want to buy something online, they either go there or rely on their phone technology to make calls to people they know in the market.
“You can hardly find the local products that we use anywhere online, it is very confusing. So even in the marketplaces, you have noticed that with the high internet penetration in Nigeria, around 51 % of our marketplaces do not appear online, so we have decided to place our marketplaces on this pedestal so people at home in Kano and those out of state can easily shop.
She further explained that seeing a lot of people from the diaspora who want local products and have to call a relative so they can help them go to the market or get the product and have it delivered overseas, and the fact that trading is not static over time, this led her to bring it all together in one place, to make it easier for people.
When you talk about e-commerce, everyone has their target audience. Saratu said, “If you look at Amazon and E-bay, they are e-commerce platforms, but they differ in many aspects. They’ve really done a lot and paved the way for people like us to think these things are possible, but a lot of people, even with the internet penetration that we have and the technology that comes with a lot of software technologies, haven’t did not address the problems that we encounter in the markets, and that is where we intervened.
Challenges and successes
Every business, big or small, has its own challenges and successes and like any other entrepreneur, especially as a businesswoman from the North, Hajiya Saratu tells of the challenges she faces in the business.
“I face a lot of challenges because you know when it comes to not just being a woman in northern Nigeria, leaving your house to really interact with people, shocks society. experience in customer service for over 10 years and that experience is what I have used to drive the market forward For example; people expect you to dress a certain way because that you’re a business man and it’s not always like that because I don’t have to dress in a corporate sense but the main challenge we face as women is really balancing your personal life and the professional side of it, and we’re always trying to find a way to balance that.
She said that despite these challenges, her business is flourishing as she registered over 300 stores on the Wekasua platform and connected over 600 shoppers to their products in the first quarter of the year alone.
“Yes, we have been accepted, because we have registered more than 300 stores at the moment, and the market we started with is Singa market in Kano, and we plan to expand Wekasua outside of Kano , as long as there are disorganized and disoriented markets, we are very happy with the way people are starting to accept the change that we are bringing to society, ”she said.
“Poverty reduction is my vision”
On where she hopes to take her business, Saratu said her vision has always been to alleviate poverty within society, and her five-year goal is to ensure that Wekasua becomes the place where every Nigerian know that the market within their local neighborhood is easy to access.
“We are creating this brand where we are taking away from people the idea that e-commerce is a fraudulent platform. But it’s not that at all, we’ve made sure it’s bound legally, with tangible and easy ways to conduct day-to-day transactions,” she added.
Hajiya Saratu has big plans for her business and is changing the Kano market, as she sees herself as the entrepreneur who will expand her business across Nigeria and beyond and break the glass ceiling for business women, by especially those in his part of the country.