TechInAfrica – Meet Gerald Nyamadzavo , one of Flexi-Africa founders – a platform that encourages African businesses to sell their products to the world. Flexi Africa encourages African-made products to be distributed to consumers all over the world and mainly in Africa. Below is the interview wrapped with him.
1. First of all, can you pitch us your company in just a few sentences?
Flexi Africa is a boundary- breaking new ecommerce platform designed specifically for Zimbabwean Vendors. It was build to help the Zimbabwean/African population take advantage of the growing market for digital sales and shopping fulfillment. At the same time it offers the world a consolidated online Zimbabwean marketplace.
Built specifically with small footprint, tech unsavvy local business in mind, our platform provides the ideal brokerage solution to 6.8 million Internet users in Zimbabwe and for 437.5 million Internet users across the African continent
2. Can you tell us more about yourself, your personal background, your experience and how you went to this journey?
I am an aircraft engineer, but I started getting into digital marketing and sourcing goods from china and selling them on eBay and shopify in 2015. I grew one of my stores on shopify to be one of most visited store online. In 2017, I started researching about e-commerce in Zimbabwe, and I found there was no prominent ecommerce site that connected customers and business, that’s how Flexi Africa came about. I then reached out to my close friends Nass Aoun, who holds an MBA and has deep knowledge in customer relations and international business and Nyasha Nguwo who has deep knowledge and experience in IT and marketing. In 2018 we started building the website and started reaching out to third parties like DHL, pay now, direct pay online and other local business to partner up with. By October 2018 the platform was done and we held a launch party at Jameson hold which had an attendance of about 300 business owners. Fast forward to April 2019, we have close a 1000 products listed and have started our expansion into South Africa
3. Can you tell us more about Zimbabwe? Why this market?
Zimbabwe is perhaps the greatest overlooked opportunity in the ecommerce sphere. With more than 6.8 million and growing people already using Internet daily and no company focused digitalizing the commercial market, it’s a market that’s begging for a dedicated broker.
4. What are the main issues you have been facing with flexi-africa in Zimbabwe?
Logistics remain a considerable burden on both those who want to sell internationally, within Zimbabwe and within Africa. It is also our main issue we are facing since local cheaper logistics companies do not have online platforms that can allow them to intergrate with our platform. However, we making steps to work with local logistics companies on providing an online platforms for their customers
5. Who are your main competitors around? And outside of the country, who are your inspiration?
In Zimbabwe, we are the only ecommerce site that focuses on cross border trading although locally you have the likes of ownai, classifieds etc. In Africa, you have the bigger player in the industry such as Jumia, which recently listed on the New York stock exchange.
6. What is your point of view, as a startup founder, about Zimbabwe?
Zimbabwe is a very interesting entrepreneurial field. Most of the population is millennials, which makes it easy to attract new technologies in the country. On the other hand you have the older generation that are in control of most of the system and they judge your business model based on who you know but not the merits of the model. I think as Zimbabwean entrepreneurs we should create our own ecosystem that supports our startups.
7. Is it hard to find investors there?
Its not hard to find investors if the business model is solid and your team is knowledgeable. The only factor that might discourage investors in investing in Zimbabwean startups is the country risk.
8. What do you think is lacking to Zimbabwe to develop it more? What are the main barriers to develop a startup there?
I think technology is lacking in Zimbabwe, once as a country we adopt technology business/start ups are going to save money, have access to enhanced customer data, speed things up (not wait in lines all the time), have more organized information and bring business communities together hence building a more sustainable eco system.
The main barriers to develop startups in Zim are lack of exposure for Zimbabwean entrepreneurs to sustainable business.
9. What is your perspective for the next years on Zimbabwe and more regionally on Africa?
I think Zimbabwe and Africa in general is going to thrive in the next few years, the numbers already showing that Africa is going to be a hub spot for startups in the next coming years. We have high growing population across Africa; Internet penetration is on the rise, we are seeing an increase in higher GDP across most African countries.
10. As you know, we are always on the look of great startups, new products and amazing entrepreneurs, could you name a few locally or regionally in Zimbabwe?
Last mile delivery is an upcoming logistics company that’s providing jobs and cheaper delivery across Zimbabwean rural areas.
For the further information go visit www.flexiafrica.com; and send an email to email@example.com