Rwandans and East African residents will now find it easy to buy locally-made goods, thanks to a new online market that seeks to promote Made-in-Rwanda products.
The co-founders of the digital market, Mike Karangwa, a communication expert at University of Rwanda and Gustave Murenzi, an IT specialist, say the platform allows users to post a range of products and services, enabling people to buy and sell their goods in one place.
The platform is part of the Iyacu social network that targets about 40 million Kinyarwanda speakers in the region.
“You just have to sign in and then upload your product by clicking on the “My product” feature. It will automatically go to the market and be accessible to all Iyacu users,” Karangwa explained in an interview with Business Times.
He added that there is also the possibility for local companies to market their brands using Iyacu by creating a page. He said this enables firms to sell their products through the platform without having to move to another website.
Traders can upload videos or photos of their products, targeting the growing Iyacu users who are now in thousands, weeks after it was launched.
Karangwa said in developing Iyacu, they were inspired by the objectives of SMART Rwanda, especially the objective of promoting social and cultural interaction and integration, as well as enabling e-commerce among Rwandans through the use of ICT tools.
“Every feature that we designed is in line with the objectives of SMART Rwanda,” he said.
Businesses and others users can access the online marketing platform and Iyacu social network. There are already a number of local e-markets, including e-soko, Ronkos for fashion industry, Jumia and various job and real estate marketing platforms.
Karangwa however said they are not worried about the competition, noting that the sector is still young with huge potential that is yet to be fully exploited. “Every decision that we take, every detail we put into the app is centred around improving user experience,” he said.
The innovators said the site aims at creating an online environment for Kinyarwanda speaking community to share their experiences, culture and daily life, as well as deepen their business reach. “We started with a group of close friends and then acquaintances to create Iyacu. On top of that, we also wanted to create an environment where friends can meet and do business together via our market option,” he said.
“We’re in this for the long haul,” he said. “One of the things we believe in is commerce and the market. We plan to expand our activities to the community of around 40 million people that speaks Kinyarwanda in the region. However, our starting point of activity is Rwanda,” he said, citing an example of how the Chinese did it with Renren, and Russians with their V-kontakt.