Five enterprising youths have created a platform for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to advertise their products, particularly when running promotions, to increase brand awareness and boost sales.
Dubbed "Vhuka", the platform was developed to afford SMEs an opportunity to sell their products to many potential customers at a lower cost. Well-heeled companies such as Econet, OK Zimbabwe and Pick 'n Pay, advertise their promotions in the mainstream media, which most SMEs cannot afford.
Despite manufacturing mouth-watering products, local SMEs still contend with a number of challenges including capital and markets. Vhuka Africa founder Kudzai Mukute, told The Herald Business this week that as the country moves towards formalisation of SMEs, it was crucial for players in the sector to embrace technology so as to boost their operations and consequently profitability.
"Through Vhuka, we are saying SMEs now have a great platform to market their products," said Mr Mukute.
"When we started, our aim was to ensure that SMEs get a platform to market themselves and grow their market share. More importantly, some SMEs were losing out to middlemen who would buy their products when they reduced prices, only to resell at a higher price."
Mr Mukute said through the online platform, SMEs that join Vhuka Africa have an opportunity to directly market their products and get decent returns.
An accounting graduate from the University of Cape Town, Mr Mukute said he started a similar product with assistance from some of his lecturers, targeting Cape Town businesspeople.
"We started in Cape Town where we approached some businesspeople who agreed to give us advertising business. In a few weeks' time, we got 2 000 customers and as we expand into Zimbabwe, we have now upgraded the platform. Through this upgrade, we are addressing errors of the past and we hope to give SMEs value for money," said Mr Mukute.
The Cape Town platform is still running and advertises beverages, alcoholic and non-alcoholic, together with fast foods, hair products and others. Vhuka Africa, which was established in June this year, has already courted a number of SMEs, explaining to them the importance of subscribing to the platform.
Mr Mukute said they are planning to offer their clients a facility whereby they don't pay for two months.
"The customers will start paying when they really feel they are getting value from the online platform. The SMEs we have so far approached are excited about the development and are eager to join us in January next year," said Mr Mukute.
The company is run by five youths, four Zimbabweans and one South African.