Online shopping is touted as the new frontier of commerce. Across the globe, many startups use the internet or social media to boost their business chances as well as create business visibility. The spread of COVID-19 worldwide has led many businesses to pivot towards remote work and online sales.
However, many of these businesses, particularly in Africa, do not have the tools and technical skills to take advantage of the e-commerce space and other opportunities the internet present, partly due to logistical and financial challenges as well as infrastructure deficits.
To better equip startups worldwide, Facebook is running a non-equity program supporting innovative commerce startups that offer revamped shopping experiences for buyers and sellers. A total of 36 startups were selected worldwide. Of the 36, eight innovative African tech startups have been selected for the prestigious Facebook Commerce Accelerator Program.
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In a blogpost, Michael B. Huang, Head of Startup Programs at Facebook, explained the benefits and aim of the program.
“Over the course of three months, we’re bringing together innovative commerce startups in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America to help create a unified shopping experience across all Facebook apps. Throughout the virtual program, the selected startups will have access to a dedicated Facebook mentor, comprehensive training, Facebook’s suite of products and technologies, and a valuable network of product experts and fellow founders to connect with.”
The eight African startups selected to join the Facebook Accelerator: Commerce Programme were assessed by an international panel of Facebook and product experts. They were selected for having a product focused on driving customer value, diverse and focused leadership teams, groundbreaking technology or research and evidence of business growth.
Below are the eight African startups that were selected for the program:
- BoxCommerce is a South African e-commerce platform that allows small and medium scale businesses to create e-commerce websites, payments, and logistics in emerging markets. The firm also sites development and shop management for businesses to seamlessly manage their site.
- ShoppingFeeder is also a South African startup and leading feed management and multi-channel marketing platform for online stores. It has powerful features that make marketing of products easy.
- FeedGeni, a Ghanaian startup, is a product feed generator that assists merchants to increase product visibility and sales by uploading their products list on shopping engines.
- Digiduka is a Kenyan startup. It assists kiosks (informal retailers) in Africa by providing digital inventory and easy and cost-effective digital payment processing.
- OkHi is developing a next-generation address system aimed at amplifying commerce through enhanced logistics.
- Botme is an Egyptian commerce chatbot building platform that helps small and medium-sized businesses to build chatbots and publish them on Messenger and WhatsApp.
- Convertedin is the first Customer Marketing Platform for Retailers that work in auto-pilot mode. The objective of the Egyptian startup is to provide retailers with intelligent algorithms to reach their marketing potential.
- WideBot empowers businesses to build smart, AI-enabled chatbots that speak both formal and informal Middle Eastern languages. It is also an Egyptian startup.