29 Aug

eBay opens U.S. platform to Africa with MallforAfrica.com partnership


Americans can now buy African goods on eBay through the company’s partnership with MallforAfrica.com.

Starting this week, products from select vendors in six African countries are available on eBay’s U.S. shopping site. The collaboration starts in style, with opening merchandise categories of fashion, art, jewelry, and clothing.

For the new program, MallforAfrica selects the sellers and handles payments on its proprietary platform. DHL is the shipping partner. Online shoppers can browse the entire collection on eBay’s Mall for Africa Store.

The new online channel expands an existing relationship between the two e-commerce companies. In  2016, they launched the eBay Powered by MallforAfrica platform allowing U.S. vendors to sell in Africa.

“A year ago our focus was about how we could work with a partner to overcome shipping, payment, and trade barriers to offer eBay’s selection in Africa,” Sylvie de Wever, eBay’s General Manager of Latin America and US exports, told TechCrunch.

“If you think about our purpose, which is connecting millions of buyers and sellers around the world and creating economic opportunity, it makes sense to open up the American market to sellers in Africa,” she said.

To start, the program taps goods from merchants in Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, and Burundi, according to de Wever. “We’ll be adding more sellers and more countries,” she said.

On the selection of African vendors, “The main criteria are that the products be made in Africa and quality―making sure it’s a quality product that we can ship within the categories selected,” said MallforAfrica CEO Chris Folayan.

To ensure both, MallforAfrica created a new association, the Africa Made Product Standards(AMPS), to verify made in Africa status and merchandise standards. Initial vendors include African art and craft site Qeturahand accessory brand Eclectic Chique.

Both MallforAfrica’s Folayan and eBay’s de Wever underscored the partnership to sell select African products on eBay is not charity. “This is very much about expanding the reach of African sellers, enabling their platforms, and allowing them to earn and compete globally,” said de Wever.

Folayan sees value for the continent in connecting African sellers to the global digital market. “We’re going to help Africans get on the e-commerce roadmap and make sure people see there are amazing products coming out of Africa,” he said.

“The end result is not just artisans getting known, it’s about giving them a platform expand their businesses, to make money, to send their kids to school, to impact their families,” he added.

MallforAfrica was founded in 2011 to solve challenges global consumer goods companies face when entering African markets. With a unique payment and delivery system, it serves as a digital broker and logistics manager between U.S. retailers and African consumers. The venture has backing from UK private equity firm Helios Investment Partners and alliances with companies such as clothier Hawes and Curtis and department store Macy’s.

While digital sales revenue in Africa is expected to exceed $75 billion by 2025, there’s no reliable estimate of the potential marketplace for online African goods in the U.S., according to Chris Folayan.

Still, he’s optimistic. “We know this will be a pretty big market,” he said, noting demand at two levels. “There’s this wave of interest in African centric designs in mainstream fashion. You’ve seen brands such as Chanel and Dolce Gabbana elevate that. Then you have Africans in the U.S. who want to reconnect with their heritage.”

In addition to being one of the most educated demographics in America, Africans have become one of the fastest growing immigrant populations, according to data from Pew and the U.S. Census Bureau.

eBay’s new partnership has another interesting tech angle: the ability of e-commerce to leapfrog government trade policy.

The last major legislation expanding trade between the U.S. and Africa dates back to 2000. E-commerce partnerships don’t wait for congressional approval.

“We’ve seen people all over the world want to trade, regardless of regulation” said eBay’s Sylvie de Wever.


via techcrunch 

08 Aug

Seven Chinese companies that have made it in Africa

Africa-based Chinese enterprises

Africa-based Chinese enterprises are making respectable profits. Nearly a quarter recovered their initial investment within 12 months, while 50% reported it took them three years or less. One of the reasons for their success is that Chinese entrepreneurs are prepared to act boldly and swiftly – often at considerable personal risk – to build their businesses.

China’s growing commercial involvement in Africa has been well documented. However, a new study by McKinsey & Company, titled Dance of the lions and dragons, suggests the number of Chinese businesses in Africa are much greater than previously thought. It estimates there are more than 10,000 Chinese-owned firms in the continent today.

How we made it in Africa takes a closer look at a few Chinese companies successfully operating on the continent.

Tecno: Products tailored for Africa

McKinsey estimates about 90% of Chinese companies in Africa are privately-owned. These firms work towards their own profit motives, challenging the belief that most Chinese investment in Africa is coordinated through the state. One such private venture is mobile phone brand Tecno, owned by China-based Transsion Holdings, which has achieved market share of as high as 40% in some East African countries, despite the presence of global competitors.

Tecno’s devices are generally affordably-priced, and has features specifically tailored for the African countries where it operates. For instance, it was the first major brand to introduce a keyboard in Amharic (Ethiopia’s official language) and its devices include photo software to batter capture darker skin tones.

Twyford: State-of-the-art factory run by locals

About two hours from Kenya’s capital Nairobi, in a mostly-rural area, stands the Twyford ceramic tile factory, constructed in just eight months in 2015-16. It took the McKinsey team some time to arrange a visit to the Twyford factory, as the managers, like many other Chinese businesspeople in Africa, prefer to keep a low profile. The facility is a joint venture between two Chinese firms: Sunda Group and Keda Clean Energy Company. Sunda started out by importing tiles from China into Nigeria, but has since launched its own manufacturing operations in a number of African countries; its partner, Keda, is a Shanghai-based supplier of industrial machinery.

The majority of this modern factory’s workers, including management, are Kenyan, debunking the myth that Chinese companies don’t employ locals. In fact, 89% of employees at the more than 1,000 companies McKinsey talked to, were African. It is estimated that Chinese-owned businesses already provide work for millions of Africans.

Huawei: Transferring technology

Telecommunications company Huawei is an example of a Chinese operator whose technology has enabled African companies to boost their service levels. In 2015, Kenyan mobile operator Safaricom migrated 12.8 million of its M-Pesa mobile money subscribers to Huawei’s platform. The benefits of the new system included faster transaction processing, an open application program interface (API) for third-party integration, and improved security measures.

According to McKinsey’s research, Chinese companies are involved in substantial transfer of technology in Africa – nearly 50% have introduced a new product or service, and over a third have brought in new technology.

Sunshine Group: Multisectoral player

Sunshine Group is an example of a Chinese company which started out in one industry, and expanded into others. Founded in Tanzania in 2012, it initially focused on mining, but has since entered sectors including agriculture, manufacturing and transport. The company has invested around US$100m in projects such as a gold-smelting facility, agri-processing plants, and a card-printing facility that produces bank and phone cards.

StarTimes: Making pay-television accessible

Broadcasting company StarTimes has grown into one of the continent’s top pay-television providers, with about 10 million subscribers and established subsidiaries in more than 30 African countries. It has taken a long-term view by investing in low-cost, digital satellite television. For instance, in Tanzania, StarTimes has lowered the local price of pay-television by up to 90%. And in Kenya, the company has introduced digital satellite television to rural parts of the country that previously had limited access to a television signal.

Bobu Africa: Catering for Chinese tourists

Not all Chinese companies in Africa are large industrial enterprises. Travel agency Bobu Africa was launched by a young Chinese couple to introduce authentic African culture to Chinese tourists, who are showing increasing interest to visit the continent. The founders developed an array of interesting travel routes, including visits to craft workshops, enabling local artisans to boost their incomes.

FAW: Manufacturing for the domestic market

McKinsey’s research found that Chinese factories in Africa are predominantly serving the domestic market, with 93% of the revenues of the manufacturers it interviewed originating from local or regional sales.

An example of a large business targeting domestic buyers is truck manufacturer FAW. It has invested $50m in an assembly plant in South Africa, which produces about 5,000 vehicles annually for both the South African market and other African countries. In 2013, FAW also partnered with Perfection Motors to assemble and market its trucks in Nigeria.

Via HowWeMadeItInAfrica