Fintech start-up Flutterwave has launched Flutterwave Store, a portal for African merchants to create digital shops to sell online.
The company developed Flutterwave Store in response to COVID-19, which has brought restrictive measures to SMEs and traders operating in Africa.
After creating a profile, users can showcase inventory and link up to a payment option. For pickup and delivery, Flutterwave Store operates through existing third party logistics providers, such as Sendy in Kenya and Sendbox in Nigeria.
The service will start in 15 African countries and the only fees Flutterwave will charge (for now) are on payments. Otherwise, it’s free for SMEs to create an online storefront and for buyers and sellers to transact goods.
While the initiative is born out of the spread of coronavirus, it will continue beyond the pandemic. Flutterwave’s CEO Olugbenga Agboola — aka GB — is adamant Flutterwave Store is not a pivot for the fintech company.
Flutterwave has a very different business than the continent’s big e-commerce players such as Jumia and plans to stick with it, according to GB.
On the potential for Flutterwave Store, there’s certainly a large pool of traders and small businesses across Africa that could appreciate the opportunity to take their businesses online..
Flutterwave confirmed Flutterwave Store’s initial 15 countries will include Africa’s top economies and population countries of Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa.
These markets already have a number of players driving digital commerce, including options for small businesses to post their wares online. Jumia’s Jumia Marketplace allows vendors register on its platform and use the company’s resources to do online retail.
Facebook has made a push into Africa offering users the chance to sell on Facebook Marketplace. The social media giant now offers the service in Nigeria — with 200 million people and the continent’s largest economy.
eBay has not yet gone live in Africa with its business to consumer website, that allows any cottage industry to create a storefront. The American company does have an arrangement with e-commerce startup MallforAfrica.com for limited sales of African goods on eBay’s U.S. shopping site.
On where Flutterwave’s new product fits into Africa’s online sales space, CEO GB says Flutterwave Store will maintain a niche focus on mom and pop type businesses.
“The goal is not be become like eBay, that’s advocating for everybody. We’re just giving small merchants the infrastructure to create an online store at zero cost right from scratch,” he said.