Sokowatch, an innovative e-commerce platform has been named the Visa Everywhere Initiative – Pandemic Challenge winner. The e-commerce platform hopes to find a solution to rebuild businesses that are heavily impacted by the pandemic.
Sokowatch offers the market a tech-enabled solution that corrects supply-side inefficiencies. The app has a 16000 shopper network spread across East Africa’s nine major cities. The informal retail market contributes 90% of Africa’s consumer purchases. Threats of shop closures from the global pandemic only make the situation worse by limiting the supply for food and essential services for millions of low-income families.
Daniel Yu, SokoWatch’s global founder, and CEO expressed the following comments in a statement, “I’m incredibly honored to have been selected as this year’s winner of the Visa Everywhere Initiative. Sokowatch’s service is for the mass market, which is made up of many low-income families who have felt the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.“
Shop owners using the platform, got a sigh of relief as Sokowatch extended them with credit lines that allowed placing large orders of goods. The credit scheme helps Sokowatch maintain a healthy business community and a 20-25% increase in sales that set it in a stronger position to serve low income families who are reliant on them.
Sokowatch took part in the 2020 challenge where they showcased their role of supporting local communities across East Africa with the best prices from different manufacturers. Data provided from the user sales activities ensure Sokowatch’s warehouses are fully stocked with goods that are in high demand.
As a response to the pandemic, Sokowatch has used its existing networks and technological systems to pass e-vouchers across informal settlements in East Africa. The e-vouchers are easily received by SMS or redeemed by a locally registered shop.
In East Africa, the essential goods market is $180bn, an impressive number from Africa’s $600bn. In an interview with African Business magazine, Daniel Yu revealed how the company had witnessed a “significant uptake in new customers” during the Covid-19 period. The firm also partnered with KCB and other foundations to hand out digital food vouchers to thousands of needy families.
Visa Everywhere Initiative (VEI) is a global platform run by Visa to encourage startup fintech companies with solutions on tomorrows challenges on payment and commerce.