During the last few years, unemployment rate in Kenya has been constantly increasing. According to the World Bank, it has jumped from 17.1% in 2011 to 17.4% in 2014. That is three times higher compared to neighbouring countries like Uganda or Tanzania. With most Kenyans looking for job opportunities in big cities, it is time to focus on something that requires little investment and can be done online from any place: e-commerce.
What increases together with unemployment is Internet access. Kenya leads African internet and connectivity sector. It is one of the countries with the fastest speed, the lowest rates and the best infrastructure. Only in 2014, 43.4% of Kenyans had internet access. It is more than the World’s average of 40%. This fact should be used to create new business opportunities to people and diminish unemployment rate in the country
The new type of customers also speaks for further development of e-commerce. They are young, tech-savvy and own at least one smart mobile device. They are potential e-commerce business owners and clients at the same time. Possibly middle-class, career oriented and appreciating work-life balance, they will not spend their free time in a shopping mall doing grocery shopping or looking for a new pair of shoes. While planning a holiday they will not visit travel agents personally anymore. All they want is speed and convenience, so the first place they will check is Internet.
The program launched by Africa’s leading hotel booking website – Jovago – became a huge success. Since the company entered Kenyan market, booking a hotel takes only a few minutes as the whole process takes place online. Jovago connects travelers with their ideal hotel, getting on board big players like Sarova, Kempinski or Serena as well as smaller, affordable ones. The customer chooses where they want to go, enters the dates and gets a list of available properties in the area in the best prices. A few more clicks and the booking is done. E-commerce works for almost every industry including travel, retail, real estate and food.
In many cases, opening an online store does not require big financial investment. One do not need to own or produce goods. A good way to start is to become a middle man and start connecting customers, who are in need of a specific product, with a vendor, who wants to reach an many customers as possible. What is the advantage for both? Well, a customer saves time purchasing goods online and a vendor enters another advertising channel reaching potential buyers he was not able to reach before. It is a win-win situation.
Whether one decides to sell their own goods or to be a middle man, the business will require a special infrastructure to ensure online sales goes well. You may need a team of merchandisers in a first place. After all, someone has to deliver goods to the customer. Hiring a customer service team might be inevitable too, because we all know a happy customer is a returning customer. Besides this, you will need to ensure you have a good online marketer. Once you expand your business to the virtual world this is where you will be looking for new buyers.
E-commerce opens the ‘door’ not only to existing businesses, but especially to those looking for new opportunities in Kenya. It is a future. A bright future.