8 September 2017

Rwanda: Local Companies Explore the Potential of Digital Marketplace

Rwanda businesses are set to tap into the global market and increase their customer base thanks to Made-in-Rwanda Online, a digital marketplace that sells locally made products to people all over the world.

The application was open for public use in May.

It has so far been working with about 50 business entities and has sold products worth about Rwf5 million, according to Jaurès Habineza, CEO and Co-founder of Made-in-Rwanda Online (MIRO) Ltd.

The site has so far received 10,000 visitors.

Assoumpta Uwamariya, a local wine producer based in Rubavu District, Western Province, is one of the businesspeople who have made some sales thanks to the new online market.

She told The New Times that MIRO helped her get international buyers, citing five people including a South African, and Canadian, who saw her wine and liked it.

Uwamariya makes wine from beetroot, pineapple and banana.

"Those five clients bought eight bottles of my wine," she said.

A 750ml bottle for her wine costs Rwf4,000 (about $5) but it can double depending on the age.

"As the buyers of my wine liked it, some of them made an order of 150 bottles and promised to buy even more in future," Uwamariya said.

Habineza said that the number of businesses that MIRO partners with, the sales and visitors are set to significantly increase as more companies are learning the benefits of online marketing.

The new marketplace, he said, is in line with Rwanda's goal to increase exports.

Habineza said that people in Diaspora lack access to Rwandan made products, and that the new online platform was intended to address such demands.

The company charges a commission of 10 percent from each product sold through its platform.

The Director General of Trade and Investment at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Robert Opirah told The New Times that they are working to train more businesses about using online marketing.

"We will partner with the private entrepreneurs who developed the online marketplace to ensure its success by training people how to use it effectively," he said.

How the application works

Carlène Segonde Umutoni, web content manager at Made-in-Rwanda Online, said that they welcome all products including beverages, fashion, handcrafts, health, and home decoration.

There is also wholesale category whereby a customer can order products in large quantities and get discounts.

The payment system includes mobile money, Visa or Master card debit and credit cards.

Habineza said that people in East African countries can pay using their local mobile money companies.

According to Umutoni, a customer visits the website ,www.madeinrwanda.online then choose a product they want to buy. They will provide their details and shipping address after which they will be directed to a link to execute their payment.

If the customer uses mobile money as the payment system, they will have to add their mobile money phone number.

The customer will get notification telling them that they were purchasing something from the marketplace.

The marketplace works with DHL and Rwanda Post Office for shipping abroad.

For local delivery, the marketplace has been doing it internally, but Habineza disclosed that they are negotiating with local transport agencies to help with distribution.

Delivery within Kigali is charged at Rwf1000 and for upcountry the cost can go up to Rwf2,500 for districts like Rusizi District.

The global e-commerce market is expected to grow from $1.3 trillion in 2014 to $2.5 trillion by the end of 2018, as per eMarketer - a US-based market research company.

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