E-Commerce is blossoming all over the world. In this story, we take a close look at what is happening in Africa, especially Nigeria.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start with introducing our audience to yourself as well as Mall For Africa. Tell us about what you do and what’s happening in your world.
Chris Folayan: I’m the Founder and CEO of Mall for Africa. Mall for Africa is an online application both for PC and mobile that allows people in Africa to purchase items from US and UK sites. Most companies currently do not ship directly to any country in Africa, but Africa is a thriving continent and people there want to purchase items from the US and UK. Since many sites in the US and UK don’t do that, we’ve created a platform that, in essence, opens up true global e-commerce to the people of Africa.
We allow people from Nigeria, for example, to purchase items from Macy’s because Macy’s doesn’t ship to any African country. With our platform, people in Nigeria can purchase items from Macy’s and from over 80 stores online. We provide that service to the people of Africa.
Sramana Mitra: You take the orders from the African clientele and you assemble the orders from the various US and UK stores. Who does the shipping and everything?
Chris Folayan: We do all of that. We handle everything for the customer. The application is built in such a way that customers can go to the Macy’s site, find the items they want, and add it to their Macy’s cart. When they click on the buy now, they’re actually paying us and then our application orders the items from Macy’s. The items get shipped to our warehouse in the US. We consolidate and then ship it to the purchaser. We take care of all the transactions. We clear it from customs for the customers, so they don’t have to worry about any of that.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s talk about the African e-commerce consumer. What are the dynamics of the African e-commerce market?
Chris Folayan: E-commerce in Africa is extremely hot. It’s probably progressing faster than in the US and in other first world countries. Africa had 4G networks going before 4G was even introduced in the US. In Africa, the whole mobile stream and influence is much faster than it is in the US. That has caused e-commerce to escalate and just grow so rapidly where people now have access to the Internet with their smartphones. Without a platform, they’re able to purchase items. They’re able to learn and educate themselves and come up with some really cool ideas and things to do. It’s definitely a growing industry. It’s spreading extremely fast.