Uju Uzo-Ojinnaka is the founder and CEO of Traders of Africa, a platform to connect buyers and sellers of agriculture commodities in Africa.
Uju started Traders of Africa after losing a business deal to export 20 containers of groundnut to an Indian merchant. She spotted a business opportunity to make it easier for people to be able to buy commodities in Africa despite losing the deal.
She was able to convince one of the faculty members (Dr Pedro Nueno) at the China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) in Zurich, Switzerland, where she was a student, to invest in her business plan.
“He invested when we were about to launch the business in August 2017, and we started in September with 9,000 suppliers sourced from five African countries. The main initial goods were agricultural items,” she told howwemadeitinafrica.
Once Traders of Africa started operating in Nigeria, Uju and her team encountered supply chain challenges. And to mitigate this challenge, she created a platform to train small farmers and traders on how to boost production and trade in commercial quantities. The move was also to ensure that there were traders and suppliers to feed raw materials into the platform.
“We introduce selected trainees into the academy where they are mentored on how to source products. This method has become our inroad into different countries through various partnerships,” she noted.
Today, the platform has up to 18,000 suppliers from Africa and some 485 products. According to Howwemadeitinafrica, the company has an annual revenue of $4.8 million.
Uju first launched Traders of Africa in Nigeria and has gradually expanded to other African countries, including Benin, Togo, Cameroon and Mali. She hopes to be in Ghana, Uganda and Tanzania soon. When she started, she went from Lagos, Nigeria, to Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, and Ghana to recruit merchant acquisition directors who would source and onboard suppliers.
Also, Traders of Africa started as an agro-commodities trading platform but has expanded into other products like fashion accessories, minerals and metals, food and beverages, beauty products, packaging, construction materials and furniture.
Uju and her team are not resting on the success recorded so far. They want to expand into at least 10 African markets and also increase their annual revenue.
“We want to be the Alibaba of Africa…At maturity, Traders of Africa should be able to generate $20 million monthly, which is part of our growth plan.”