Nigeria, home to over 160 million people is the most populous country in Africa and the seventh most populous country in the world. Blessed with oil, mineral and human resources, the road to growth and development has been met with several obstacles, however, where there is a large population, there is a large market. There are over 160 million potential buyers and sellers of different items, on every street, a seller and a potential buyer. The facts show, Nigerians love to shop, but with the absence of well-structured retail, few shopping malls and poor transport facilities, it is often difficult to access products.
The 1980s and 1990s was a period where Nigeria experienced steady growth in national income and a gradual change in economic structure that saw the first attempt to structure retail. Retail chains and outlets began to arise but due to the problems they experienced, they never met the expectations that came with economic growth. Then the eventual arrival of information technology, although slow in Nigeria, began to take shape and many saw online retail as the answer to all the problems Nigerians had faced, however the first attempt at online retail by Nigerians faced the same challenges that the retail stores faced.
The average Nigerian startup is like a farmer that has to “Grow the land, find the cow, grow the grass to feed the cow, feed the cow, make the burger and sell the burger”. The Startup is faced with the need to survive without any existing financial or infrastructural support. For one Nigerian startup, the journey to change the face and perception of the World about Nigeria started exactly one year ago; seven idealistic individuals came together in the belief that the Internet will be the framework for Nigerian commerce going forward, and they were not afraid to empty their bank accounts, get loans from friends and push themselves to the limit in pursuing this dream.
This Nigerian startup and e-retailer, Konga.com and its CEO, Sim Shagaya, fully aware of the challenges of doing business in Nigeria such as absence of proper logistics system, lack of trust in online transactions, absence of formal retail and a poor road network, set out to revolutionize the way Nigerians buy and sell, by applying technology. Konga in the last one year has laid the solid foundations of a technology and logistics company, building a system by which buyers and sellers find each other and interchange goods and money, providing unprecedented levels of retail convenience, choice and customer satisfaction.
The company’s vision and early success saw the startup receive investment from Kinnevik of Sweden and Naspers/ MIH of South Africa; two companies passionate about helping businesses grow. In less than one year of operations, the company’s workforce has grown from that daring team of seven to a bigger team of over 200 committed and patriotic individuals who see the company as a service to Nigeria and Africa.
A key strength of Konga’s operations lies in its understanding of the Nigerian people and its focus on customer centricity, understanding that Nigerians have a voice, and want to be heard. The company has opened up diverse channels of communication utilizing modern technology, its over 350,000 Facebook fans, Google plus and Twitter pages serve as a meeting point for Nigerians not only to experience the companies services but to interact and share their views on different matters.
Konga’s other key strengths lie in logistics systems efficiency and secure payment platforms, ensuring that orders are delivered on time, as promised, and making sure the customer is always confident in receiving the right items, or returning and receiving a full refund when not satisfied with their purchase or experience; all services which have helped the retailer gain strong customer loyalty and brand equity. The company currently delivers Nationwide, collects cash on delivery in major cities and has recently deployed strategic pick up points in the Nation’s business capital, Lagos; all benefits Nigerians enjoy from choosing Konga.com as their shopping destination.
Not stopping there, the e-retailer only in its first year has just transformed its business model to empower even more Nigerians, recently restructuring their business model to that of a marketplace where Nigerian businesses and merchants can sell their goods and services online via the Konga platform, giving them access to over 50 million potential Nigerian shoppers currently online. This platform known as Konga Mall is already putting smiles on the faces of both customers and business owners who now have unlimited access to goods and customers respectively, from all over the country.
As a part of its marketplace platform, it has just launched a new buyer protection policy, a similar policy to an existing one on ebay which ensures that the buyers are fully protected and that they receive their items as promised.
To celebrate the company’s one-year anniversary, the entire management of the company and the brand ambassador, Nigerian award-winning musician, Omawumi Megbele, surprised Konga’s very first customer with a visit to her office, bearing gifts.
A chat with the lady, Kehinde Laleye, gives us a glance into the mind of Nigerians, talking about how interaction with Konga on social media and other channels has given voice to herself and several other Nigerians.Citing convenience and choice as what convinced her to try Konga,an online shop in Nigeria, one year ago, she says “…all her friends now shop online.”
In an anniversary message to all their customers, friends and investors, CEO of Konga.com, Sim Shagaya says:
“As Konga turns one, we wish to take a moment to say to our community of buyers and sellers alike, thank you!
Together, with you, in the fullness of time, we will show that just as plain soil sprouts the most fragrant colorful flowers, from this our beloved country, with its many challenges, we will spring hope, creativity and innovation.
Today, the Konga team recommits itself to this future and to serving you.”
* Review is courtesy of Konga