The global lockdown that was necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic has forced startup companies to develop resourceful solutions to keep afloat and compensate for slow revenue.
Sokowatch, a B2B eCommerce platform with integrated financial services and logistics is transforming access to essential goods for communities across Africa.
The company’s co-founder and CEO, David Yu, tells Business Elites Africa how the business is mitigating the COVID-19 phase and the impact of its operations in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Uganda.
Q: Could you please tell us about your background and your path to entrepreneurship?
A: Before I started Sokowatch, I worked as a software developer and Chief Technical Officer for several early-stage US startups while also travelling around the world after dropping out of university. While living in Egypt, I witnessed pervasive product stockouts at small retail shops. This led me to start Sokowatch to address the challenges in Africa’s supply chain.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for Sokowatch’s e-voucher scheme?
A: With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting individuals and businesses alike, we decided to launch the e-voucher scheme to ensure that essential food and goods are made available to those most affected economically. This meant both households and local shops in slums that don’t always have smartphones or addresses where goods and foods can be delivered. The e-voucher scheme is our way of making sure both families and small shops are not forgotten.
Q: Please explain to us how the e-voucher scheme works, and how it will help with the COVID-19 response?
A: The scheme uses our network of shop owners and our unique technology systems to distribute the e-vouchers to families living in informal settlements that need help. The families are identified through Sokowatch’s partnership with organizations such as Uweza Foundation in Kibera and World Hope in Kawangware, both in Nairobi, Kenya. The families receive the e-vouchers via SMS and redeem them at nearby shops that are supplied by us. Once the goods are received by these families, the transaction is confirmed via the Sokowatch app and the shopkeeper is instantly credited for the goods issued. Through our existing reach, we believe up to 1.5 million vulnerable families and 15,000 local shops could be supported through our e-voucher scheme since Sokowatch already operates across the nine (9) largest cities in East Africa…
Read the complete interview in the Business Elites Africa magazine here: Find it on pages 68 & 69.