Nigerian SMEs
QShop is a Nigerian online platform that provides “businesses [with] a quick and easy way to build e-commerce websites,” according to How we made it in Africa. The QShop platform specifically targets markets in Nigeria and Africa, focusing on small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs). QShop helps Nigerian SMEs to transition to e-commerce so that businesses can expand their markets and see increased growth.

Poverty in Nigeria and the Role of SMEs

A new World Bank report, “A Better Future for All Nigerians: Nigeria Poverty Assessment 2022,” reveals that four out of 10 people in Nigeria live below the national poverty line. In the last quarter of 2020, the unemployment rate in Nigeria stood at 33%.

However, a 2010 report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN) says Nigeria’s SME sector has the potential to “absorb up to 80[%] of jobs, improve per capita income, increase value addition to raw materials supply, improve export earnings, enhance capacity utilization in key industries and unlock economic expansion and GDP growth.”

The Nigerian SME sector plays a crucial role in attenuating poverty. PricewaterhouseCoopers says SMEs are “the backbone of major developed economies.” In the five years preceding 2010, SMEs in Nigeria contributed 48% to the country’s GDP. Furthermore, SMEs accounted for 96% of businesses in Nigeria and 84% of employment. The QShop platform aims to support SMEs in Nigeria, encouraging even further growth.

How QShop Helps Nigerian SMEs

E-commerce has become more popular in recent years and a variety of e-commerce website builders are available for companies of all sizes, including Shopify, Square and Ecwid. Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, business closures and restrictions on operations pushed business owners to look for online solutions, leading to a higher demand for e-commerce-as-a-service solutions.

Tarebi Alebiosu, the founder of QShop, told Vanguard that amid the pandemic, technology played a vital role in the survival of small businesses. She established QShop with the specific intent of helping SMEs run their businesses online.

Head of technology at QShop, Harrison Hammond, said to Vanguard: “At QShop, we want to help customers grow from zero to a hundred with technology. We serve as the middle-man to bring all the tools — websites, inventory, payment channels and logistics — to one place.”

QShop helps Nigerian SMEs by being more affordable than many other e-commerce sites and pricing its paid subscriptions in nairas and not dollars. “Right now, nobody wants to incur costs linked to the dollar as our currency is experiencing serious devaluation,” Alebiosu said to How we made it in Africa.

QShop offers business owners a free and paid subscription. Businesses can opt for the free subscription where the company “takes 4% off every transaction, but there is no monthly fee.” About 5% of QShop clients are utilizing the paid subscription, as of November 2022, while the others utilize the free subscription. “We make money only if our clients are selling,” says Alebiosu to How we made it in Africa. The free tier ensures that businesses do not lose money if they initially struggle to sell.

The Future

So far, merchants have shown a significant amount of interest in QShop since its introduction. As of May 2022, the company has more than 10,000 SMEs registered and has processed more than $500,000 USD in seller sales. With the help of partnerships with Stripe, Flutterwave, Paystack and Providus Bank, merchants can receive funds in any currency.

The COVID-19 outbreak has negatively impacted Nigeria’s economy. However, this new platform has the potential to help small and medium enterprises thrive in an increasingly digital world. The positive impacts of QShop may reignite economic growth and reduce poverty among Nigerians.

– Caterina Rossi
Photo: Flickr

India’s E-commerce
India’s e-commerce and retail companies are calling for more workers as they prepare for their next busy season. One of India’s online grocery companies, BigBasket, has increased its number of positions from only 500 to 2,200 from March to June 2022. BigBasket is seeking more employees to help the company reach 6,000 delivery workers by April 2023. 

India’s E-Commerce Boom

India’s e-commerce began in 1995 and boomed in 2013 when Amazon first began operations in India. Amazon opened the doors for new e-markets and helped Indians explore new job possibilities. India’s e-commerce market’s job openings have grown exponentially as India’s internet penetration and cell phone usage have increased. With the growth of the e-commerce market in India, countless grocery e-commerce companies are seeking new employees to expand their reach and improve their economic foothold in India.

Without the hassle of traveling to the store, fighting crowds, and missing work, the e-commerce grocery options are incredibly appealing to consumers. Most of the major Indian grocery e-commerce companies promise delivery of 10 to 15 minutes, making them a very easy tool to use. The market value of e-commerce grocery stores reflects their consumer appeal and predicted value. Many economists expect the Indian e-commerce grocery market to have a market value worth $26.6 billion by 2027. 

India’s Inflation and Economic Improvements

India’s job market hit a milestone, with unemployment dropping to 6.8%, dipping below 7% for the first time in half a year. The e-commerce job market in India has improved as unemployment rates decrease and job turnover eases, creating a stronger sense of job security nationwide.

India’s inflation rates have improved the state of the e-commerce market. Inflation rates have risen worldwide as the war in Ukraine continues. The war has slowed supply chains, halted transportation of essential goods, and, with sanctions against Russia, prices skyrocketed internationally. The soaring prices have caused inflation to rise, which has left many nations scrambling to slow interest rates domestically. India’s inflation rate hit 7.8%, an eight-year high for inflation in India, between May and June 2022 before the rate began decreasing to 6.7% as of August 2022. As unemployment rates decrease, so do poverty rates. Poverty rates have dropped 12 percentage points to 10.3% since 2011. India’s government slowed the rise in food and gas prices. 

The slowed increase in prices has helped the government get a handle on the inflation rates, reducing the need for hiking commodity prices. As the interest rate lowers, so do the costs of retail items, specifically groceries. Reduced grocery prices will ease the economic burden and give consumers more faith in the reliability of the grocery markets. In preparation for the expected increase in demand for grocery delivery, e-commerce companies are looking for extra employees to fill the growing number of workers needed.

India’s Upcoming Busy Season

India’s busy season is its festive season from August to December. The festive season features months of extra events, family gatherings and increased funds circulating in the economy. In 2021, economists predicted the festival season would result in approximately $9.2 billion spent through e-commerce sites.

The COVID-19 pandemic convinced many to shop online for groceries, especially around the busy season. Many have appreciated the ease of using e-commerce for grocery shopping. It appears that the necessity for online grocery shopping in 2020 has left many in the habit of using companies, such as BigBasket to accomplish their grocery shopping needs.

India’s e-commerce is flexible for anyone seeking full or part-time work, and the jobs are spreading from the urban areas to India’s rural sectors. The significant companies expect increased demand for their delivery workers and retailers. They expect this demand to last, which will benefit India’s economy and population in both the long and short term.

Looking Ahead

In the short term, the jobs will result in extra money flowing into the economy and additional money in people’s pockets. In the long term, the jobs will provide more benefits than a small economic flow. The jobs will provide a secure income that empowers the poor beyond their bills. The certain income will keep job turnover low, saving companies money and allowing them to pay their employees higher wages. The higher wages and low turnover will, in the long term, create a noticeable difference in the economy and poverty and employment rates. The demand for India’s e-commerce shows that these jobs will be open and available. India’s e-commerce is a growing market that will remain strong for years to come.

 – Clara Mulvihill
Photo: Flickr

E-commerce Brings Opportunities to Rural CommunitiesRural commercialization continues to grow in Latin America as communities increasingly turn to e-commerce to conduct business and make purchases. In 2020, retail e-commerce sales rose by 63.3% in Latin America. The COVID-19 pandemic is a driving factor in the growing popularity of e-commerce in the region as digital platforms to purchase and sell negate the need for physical contact. According to a study by Karine Haji, e-commerce brings opportunities to rural communities to improve their quality of life. E-commerce has the potential to engage rural communities and provide the opportunity for those communities to participate in the consumer market unlike ever before.

Rural Opportunities with E-commerce

Consumer market demand is increasing in rural regions and with that comes increased financial inclusion and access to products not typically seen in the region. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, rural markets are expanding at a faster rate than urban markets in many countries. Rural communities typically have a short supply of retail stores, products and e-commerce that offer the opportunity to fill this gap. Not only can rural areas access more consumer goods due to e-commerce but they are also able to avoid the difficulties of traveling to urban centers to purchase goods. E-commerce brings opportunities to rural communities by alleviating the burden of transportation and ultimately saves money. The expansiveness of e-commerce allows rural sellers to make sales on a more broad and dynamic scale rather than limiting their reach to customers in their immediate vicinity.

Social Commerce Provides Inclusivity for Rural Communities

Social commerce is a trend occurring in the e-commerce realm that connects suppliers with local communities. The concept of social commerce is based on the market model and uses existing social platforms. Originating in Colombia and launched in 2018, Elenas is Latin America’s first social commerce marketplace and has increased services to communities all over the region. Many sellers on Elenas are housewives or students and large portions of Elenas sales come from rural communities. Furthermore, the research team behind Elenas has found that the impact of the company directly affects social and economic conditions for women. In 2021, Elenas launched in Mexico and became a popular employment opportunity for unemployed women in the country. E-commerce brings opportunities to rural communities, especially women and students who seek economic opportunities and employment.

E-Commerce Brings Opportunities to Rural Communities in Brazil

Brazil is embracing e-commerce as an inclusive and sustainable economic alternative to traditional consumer markets with the goal of alleviating poverty and improving the quality of life for its people. Brazil is a leader in e-commerce in Latin America and seeks to expand its interests. According to the 2021 eEbit Webshoppers report, Brazil’s e-commerce activity rose by 31% in the first six months of 2021. The Brazilian government supplied pandemic relief funds to citizens through digital wallets, providing access to online stores. Brazil has also taken steps to bridge the digital divide by implementing national broadband plans. Increased internet access offers inclusivity and access to consumer markets typically out of reach to rural communities.

E-commerce Inclusive Opportunities for Rural Communities

As rural communities continue to engage with e-commerce, they begin to emerge in the global supply chain, ultimately generating wealth for the community and by the community. E-commerce brings opportunities to rural communities as well as a sense of ownership and economic engagement, ultimately giving power to marginalized communities. Additionally, it nourishes job creation and industry development. E-commerce also generates the funds that a community needs to improve infrastructure and increase broadband connection. Several countries in Latin America embrace the benefits of e-commerce as a proven inclusive and sustainable economic opportunity for marginalized communities.

– Jennifer Hendricks
Photo: Flickr

E-Commerce Can End Rural Poverty in China
E-commerce has the power to end rural poverty in China. In 2014, about 100 out of 640 households in Kengshang were on a list for having annual incomes of less than $400. The rural Chinese village in Anhui province had been in poverty for years. This is due to a shortage of farmland and geographical isolation. Most villagers made their living by growing tea but the working population decreased every year as people left to find jobs.

In 2015, the district’s commerce bureau invested $31,000 in Kengshang. This involved setting up a workshop to train the villagers and renovating a school building. The villagers sold dried bamboo shoots in small decorative bags, which the poverty-alleviation team then sold online. All of the profits went directly to the villagers. The annual revenue from the online shops in 2020 was about $123,870, up from $23,226 in 2016. By 2016, the Chinese government deemed the village of Kengshang poverty-free.

E-Commerce in China

Kengshang is one of many success stories in poverty alleviation thanks to e-commerce in China. E-commerce is the buying and selling of goods over the internet. It allows more people to access potential global markets for their products, which can help reduce poverty by opening up a new avenue of income for the impoverished. It has been especially effective for those facing rural poverty.

E-commerce in China is a robust industry for rural communities. All 832 state-level impoverished counties have e-commerce programs to alleviate poverty. In 2019, 13.84 million rural e-commerce shops existed. The shops registered total online sales of about $8.02 billion in the first quarter of 2020, up 5% from 2019.

The Alibaba Group, an e-commerce giant, launched the Rural Taobao Program in 2014 to help give rural citizens better access to the internet and help farmers increase their income by selling agricultural products directly to urban consumers online. It does this by setting up e-commerce service networks in counties and villages and improving logistical connections for villages. It also provides training in e-commerce and entrepreneurship and develops rural financial services through the AntFinancial subsidiary of Alibaba. The Rural Taobao Program has expanded rapidly, from 212 villages in 12 counties in 2014 to more than 30,000 villages in 1,000 counties in 2018.

The Chinese government has invested in improving the existing e-commerce system. In the future, the government plans to improve infrastructure in rural areas to smooth urban-rural trade channels, especially for agricultural products. Third-party delivery services, improved rural logistics systems and the cultivation of local brands will support agricultural products.

Eliminating Poverty in China

E-commerce in rural provinces has helped China eliminate rural poverty nationwide. In November 2020, President Xi Jinping announced that all rural citizens were living above the centrally-defined poverty line of about $400 a year. While this is still below the internationally recognized poverty line of $700 a year, it is an impressive feat thanks to strategies like e-commerce in rural areas. In the future, the growing industry of e-commerce has the potential to bring all rural Chinese people above the international poverty line.

E-Commerce During COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic, e-commerce has become even more important. Online ordering and no-contact delivery give rural communities a source of income that does not risk their health. Despite disruptions due to shutdowns, Taobao, an e-commerce platform, saw merchants sell 160% more products in March 2020 than in 2019. PinDuoDuo, another e-commerce company, has boosted daily orders to 65 million, compared to 50 million before the pandemic.

Looking Forward

With sustained development and investment, e-commerce has the potential to end rural poverty in China. The Chinese government needs to invest in the workers by providing entrepreneurship training, helping them establish an online presence and creating the necessary infrastructure to help them sell their products online. That way, e-commerce can be a long-term solution.

Other countries can learn from China’s e-commerce model. While China’s success comes in part from the extensive government involvement in the lives of individual citizens, other nations can still take note of the booming e-commerce industry. Investments in e-commerce development programs have the power to help end rural poverty in China.

– Brooklyn Quallen
Photo: Flickr

Solve Rural PovertyThe head of the United Nations International Labor Organization, Guy Ryder, praised China’s efforts to meet its goal to solve rural poverty by the end of 2020 despite the socioeconomic complications brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. He further highlighted the importance of China’s work toward achieving the U.N.’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goal of eradicating extreme poverty worldwide.

Transitional Monitoring Period

The relief campaign, which began in 2013, will remain in place after achieving the intended poverty reduction goals. Officials plan to institute a transitional period to monitor economic progress and prevent backsliding among those most recently lifted out of rural poverty. The transition period is also meant to introduce a shift from addressing absolute poverty to the wider goal of assisting poor agricultural regions.

Access for All: Digital Transformation

Advances in digital infrastructure have transformed internet access nationwide. In 2018, China’s Information Technology Ministry announced its goal to expand internet access to 98% of underprivileged areas. China achieved this goal in August 2019, resulting in an 8% increase in the number of internet users. Moreover, rural and urban regions enjoy the same internet quality and speed. This improvement in internet access has spurred new technological development projects, including 5G, blockchain and advanced logistics systems in rural areas.

E-commerce for the Rural Impoverished

As a result of this trend, consumption through e-commerce has been a key tool in aiding the rural impoverished. The China E-commerce Poverty Alleviation Alliance consists of 29 e-commerce platforms that allow Chinese farmers, who otherwise struggle to turn a profit, to list their products for sale online. E-commerce tools with the alliance have resulted in nearly $300 million worth of sales of agricultural products from underprivileged regions. Live streaming platforms are another increasingly effective method for rural farmers to increase the visibility of their products and reach out to new customers nationwide.

Rural Resettlements

Another prominent program to solve rural poverty is the rural resettlement program. This system relocates populations who live in ecologically dangerous or remote areas closer to urban regions to grant them access to better job opportunities, quality healthcare and formal education in cities.

One example is the resettlement of the Yi ethnic minority in Liangshan Yi autonomous prefecture in Sichuan province. Atule’er, also known as Cliff Village, is the mountainous and underdeveloped home of the Yi people, fostering little tourist attention or economic activity. The local government has resettled a large portion of the village to the more developed Zhaojue province and has given villagers subsidized apartments.

Relocation Program Flaws

This relocation program and the rural poverty alleviation campaign as a whole, are not without flaws. Some relocated residents are unable to find work opportunities in their new city and must move back to their village because they can not afford the high cost of living. Even if some do gain access to economic opportunity in the city, many are concerned about what these relocations mean for minority cultures. Forced industrialization and urbanization is seen as a tool for the state to force non-Han ethnic minorities to assimilate and leave behind their traditional customs.

National-level disorganization has also drawn criticism. About 60% of citizens who should qualify for poverty-stricken status based on their income to receive welfare payments and subsidized housing from the state did not receive the designation. Many other citizens incorrectly received poverty-stricken status as a result of bureaucratic errors, misdirecting the benefits away from the millions of unaided rural impoverished.

China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation

Aside from state-led initiatives, which tend to draw the most controversy, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) also aim to solve rural poverty in China. The China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation (CFPA) is one such NGO that aided 4.19 million people and raised more than 580 million yuan, about $91 million, in 2017 alone. One notable project is the New Great Wall Program, which promoted increased access to education by providing scholarships and financial assistance to students from underprivileged backgrounds. The CFPA also engaged in the Beautiful Countryside Program to repair damaged houses, roads and infrastructure, both improving living conditions and promoting tourism in otherwise economically underdeveloped regions.

The Road Ahead

Despite China’s extensive steps, there is much room for improvement regarding respecting minority cultures and ensuring that the progress achieved thus far will be lasting. Thus, NGOs that build relationships with the local communities themselves are proving essential in the fight toward eradicating rural poverty.

– Neval Mulaomerovic
Photo: Flickr

ShopUp Helps with Poverty Eradication in Bangladesh
Bangladesh’s economy has grown exponentially in the past 20 years. This raises its GDP per capita by 344% in total since the year 2000. In the last five years alone, this same figure surged 48%. Despite this progress, a significant portion of the country still lives below the poverty line — roughly 20% of a population of 164 million. Recent innovations in poverty eradication in Bangladesh are working to boost economic prospects and facilitate financial security for all of its citizens.

One of these innovations in poverty eradication in Bangladesh is the digital platform ShopUp. ShopUp is co-founded by Afeef Zaman, Siffat Sarwar and Ataur Chowdhury. It began with the goal to empower owners of Facebook businesses with the technical means to grow. More than 50% of Bangladeshis are self-employed. Many of them are operating e-commerce and social commerce shops through Facebook as their source of income. Also, it quickly became evident that clients’ lack of access to capital was hindering their businesses’ growth. After partnering with BRAC in 2018, a Bangladesh-based international development organization, ShopUp now aims to help small business owners acquire credit and other financials when they cannot afford the high cost of formal services.

How ShopUp Benefits Small Business Owners

Transaction records through sites like Facebook can be difficult to track and formalize for loan purposes. ShopUp automatically collects the relevant data from sales on Facebook Messenger. As a result, the merchant can more easily apply to loans from microfinance institutions. Furthermore, the process is quick. When a seller is ready to apply for a loan through ShopUp, the algorithm analyzes 25 different data points from the business’s profile. Additionally, it estimates an appropriate loan ceiling. It only takes 24 hours after approval for the financier to distribute the funds that the borrower requested.

Moreover, it increases access to capital. The service benefits microfinance enterprises by conducting a thorough and efficient online appraisal of the small business applying for the loan. Also, this allows for a significantly lower appraisal fee. This means a higher number of loans can be approved. Growth in the microfinance sector advances the market economy and creates more employment opportunities. In addition to financial assistance, ShopUp provides promotional assistance. Merchants can purchase advertisements for their shops via the service without needing to connect a bank account or credit card. Curated ad placement grants increased visibility. This results in a larger potential customer pool for emerging businesses.

Gender discrimination in Bangladesh means that women tend to face more barriers than men when it comes to employment. With ShopUp’s low cost and ease of access, it is an effective tool for female entrepreneurs to start their small businesses. Women’s participation in the labor force in Bangladesh rose to 36.2% in 2019, in part, due to the expanding market of e-commerce. Furthermore, that same year, 80% of ShopUp’s users were female.

Continued Growth of ShopUp

Investors recognize the potential for ShopUp to increase innovations in poverty eradication in Bangladesh. The founder of eBay, Pierre Omidyar, led a seed round in 2018 encouraging other major companies to assist in funding ShopUp’s endeavors. Google and Amazon were among the contributors for this round which resulted in a $1.62 million investment in the digital service. Data collected in January 2019 show that the platform served 380 individuals after launching the partner project with BRAC. This means it lends out a total of more than 3.1 million (BDT).

ShopUp is just one example of the innovations in poverty eradication in Bangladesh that are putting the country on track to continue its recent economic growth. Widespread Internet usage facilitates a digital market economy that has already provided new opportunities for financial gain. Having accessible services within the market for lower-income individuals is a crucial step in the process.

Jennifer Paul
Photo: Flickr

E-Commerce Markets in Africa
Africa holds less than 2 percent of the global e-commerce market, but an increase in participation could benefit the continent on a massive economic scale.

In fact, it has been shown that e-commerce allows consumers to connect to businesses as well as to other consumers in order to exchange goods via the Internet. E-commerce benefits global markets by improving efficiency in distribution channels and creating a more prominent market presence for individuals or businesses trying to sell products. For developing countries in Africa, one of the main obstacles in gaining access to e-commerce markets is limited access to banks.

Mobile Money

Globally, roughly 1.7 billion adults remain without access to a financial institution.

In order to alleviate this problem, mobile banking services focus on the high percentage of adults who have mobile phones in Africa. In South Africa, about 90 percent of the adult population owns a mobile device; whereas, Tanzania has the lowest with only about 75 percent of the adult population owning a mobile device.

The integration of mobile banking companies has increased dramatically over the past decade with 135 live mobile monetary services available in 2017. In fact, the number of subscribers in sub-Saharan Africa hit 44 percent in 2017. Mobile banking is attractive to people who do not physically have access to a bank or who do not have a permanent home address. It allows them to set up an account and protect their money electronically while giving them the freedom to interact financially on a global scale through e-commerce.

The Problem of Rural Communities

A smaller density of people lives in rural areas so there is a lower prospective income for operators who wish to set up mobile services in these regions. Roughly 20 percent of the population of sub-Saharan Africa is spread over 70 percent of the land. Consequently, operators in rural communities only secure a revenue of about one-tenth compared to those who work in urban areas.

Since many individuals rely on mobile banking to engage in the global market, reducing this barrier is essential to the continued development of e-commerce markets in Africa. As a result, in 2018, Uganda’s Communications Commission decided to pair with satellite firms Intelsat and Gilat in order to help increase access for those living in two rural communities.

The Prospective Value of E-Commerce Markets in Africa

A study by the McKinsey Global Institute estimates 3.7 trillion dollars (6 percent of GDP) could be added to the developing world’s collective GDP by 2025 due to a growing digital finance sector. It is 80 to 90 percent less expensive for financial institutions to provide mobile banking services than it is to create new physical branches. This method allows financial institutions to penetrate more of the population in developing and rural areas.

The e-commerce market has the potential to grow enormously over the next five years. Although access to financial institutions is an obstacle that many less privileged individuals face, an increase in mobile money services is helping to create parity. Financial inclusion means an upward trend in the global market participation, and through the development of internet-based trade, the global economy will experience more consumers, products and efficient distribution.

Tera Hofmann
Photo: Flickr

5 Areas Developing Countries Lead the World
Upon initial inspection, developing countries face many obvious challenges, some of which obscure the progress being made. The realities of poverty can sometimes force this progress; after all, from the bottom, there’s only one way to go: up. Developing countries lead the world now in ways unforeseen perhaps a decade ago, and in some ways have even distinguished themselves on the global stage. Five areas serve to highlight where these countries are outperforming the developed world.

5 Areas in Which Developing Countries Lead the World

  1. Renewable and Sustainable Energy
    On the rocky fringes of a global landscape, developing countries lead the world down some of the most implausible of paths. One such pathway grows greener than others. According to World Bank, an international financial institution that finances capital projects in countries throughout the world, Mexico, China, India and Brazil are among the leaders in sustainable energy policies.In Scoring 111 countries on policies that support energy access, World Bank analytics called Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy (RISE) took into account each country’s energy access, efficiency, and policies. Vietnam, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania also received praise for their efforts.Perhaps one reason for this trend could be the falling costs of solar energy, allowing for developing countries to reach their most isolated residents. Whatever the reason, developing economies invested in renewable energy to the tune of $177 billion in 2017. That’s a 20 percent leap in one year.
  2. Election Technology
    In places like Nigeria, electronic voter identification takes precedence over traditional work, while elsewhere, in developed countries like the U.K., the digital jump still hasn’t been made.While the electronic “fixing” of an election may be possible, the likelihood of it working in a persuasive manner depends largely on the closeness of an election. And while elections in places like Kenya meet opposition and challenge, Africa still finds itself ahead in the popular vote, so to speak, when it comes to digital voting technology.
  1. Mobile Money
    Developing countries lead the way in the implementation and use of mobile money technologies as well. Remarkably, Kenya has hit the decade mark with its M-Pesa mobile money service, but it is not alone in this growing trend among developing nations.In a 2017 report by Groupe Spéciale Mobile Association (GSMA), an organization that represents the interests of mobile operators the world over, 277 million registered mobile money accounts dotted sub-Saharan Africa at the end of 2016. These services generated $110 billion of economic value and helped to support more than three million jobs.
  2. e-Commerce and Trade
    Commercial transactions conducted electronically online, referred to as e-commerce, might often be associated with advanced economies. However, developing countries also lead the way in this area, in nations like Columbia, Argentina and Nigeria.In fact, in Latin America alone, e-commerce is expected to see growth of nearly 20 percent over the next five years. What does this mean for a developing economy? It means growth opportunities and greater integration within the world’s markets.In terms of countries opening themselves up to trade, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines take center stage. According to the World Economic Forum, an organization that engages world leaders to shape agendas, these countries have now displaced the traditional powerhouses.
  3. Positivity
    A recent poll by Gallup International, a leader in economic and market research, shows that the external powers of money may not necessarily translate to intrinsic happiness. The poll found that optimism came from places like Nigeria, Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh and the Philippines.When asked questions about prospects for the future or personal happiness, confidence abounded in places like Mexico, despite grim financial outlooks for the country. Maybe money can’t buy happiness.

Despite lingering stereotypes and growing pessimism in our world, developing countries lead the world in several different areas, and while the change in perception may be gradual, reality dictates a much quicker realization: developing countries make strides every day, and in some cases, set the standard.

– Daniel Staesser
Photo: Flickr

Mall for Africa
Mall for Africa is a patent-pending app, payment system, web service and platform that allows people from African nations to buy from U.S.- and U.K.-based e-commerce sites. This opens up local populations in Africa to products and stores they might not have access to otherwise. The app and site provide secure logins, delivery and accept local payment methods. Since its inception, Mall for Africa has joined forces with other companies and expanded its brand to give African shoppers even more options.

Chris Folayan is the CEO and founder of Mall for Africa. While studying for a business degree in marketing at San Jose State University, his family in Nigeria would send him detailed lists of things they wanted him to bring them when he visited. He started the business after he couldn’t board a plane because he had too much luggage with him. He recognized the demand and developed an app to bridge the gap.

The company works by shipping through the app and absorbing all the risks U.S. and U.K. e-retailers are wary of. The app takes care of payments in various currencies, security concerns and fraud, charge-backs, delivery confirmations and customs clearing. As a result, popular companies and brands —Amazon, eBay, Macy’s, Apple, Zara just to name a few—are now shipping to African countries.

Additionally, individuals can use the app for more than entertainment and commodities. In an interview with How We Made It In Africa, Folayan explains that it is also a tool of empowerment for the African people. It is how some schools get textbooks, computers and other supplies necessary for the academic year. Hospitals have ordered equipment that used to be unavailable to them. People have even started their own businesses now that they can gather the items they need.

Folayan went on to say that international brands are recognizing that the African consumer base is invaluable. This puts these consumers in a position to request stores to stock African brands. If this becomes the case, African designers will be able to use Mall for Africa to sell their goods abroad.

Since its humble beginnings in 2012, Mall for Africa has grown exponentially. GroceryDirect and FashionDirect connect African consumers to even more products and goods. These services are both powered by Mall for Africa. Even with these expansions, Folayan sees room for improvement in the app. Currently, it is available to people living in Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya. However, the founder hopes to include other countries in the future.

Jada Haynes

Photo: Google

E-Commerce in the Middle East
E-commerce — the purchase and sale of services through the internet — is a highly effective, low-cost way to increase revenue, generate employment, and reduce poverty in developing countries.

It was first introduced in the 1960s via an electronic data interchange (EDI) on value-added networks (VANs), then grew in the 1990s and early 2000s thanks to increased access to the internet and popular online sellers, such as Amazon and Ebay.

The internet makes e-commerce possible everywhere. It increases market efficiency, improves resource management and allows sellers to connect with buyers around the world at very low costs. E-commerce also employs maintenance workers, analysts and programmers, as well as opens up opportunities for self-employment. It also allows entrepreneurs to develop new products and expand into the market.

Needless to say, this has done wonders for the global economy; in 2013 worldwide e-commerce sales reached $1.2 trillion.

E-commerce in the Middle East, in particular, has grown by 1,500% over the last decade. The Middle East has one of the highest spending potentials in the world due in part to its widespread use of internet mobile technology. In the Middle East and North Africa, there are 110 million internet users, 30 million of which are shopping online already.

Electronic commerce brands often connect with shoppers via search engine optimization and social media. According to Paymill, Facebook drove 85% of worldwide social media-originating sales on an e-commerce platform in 2014.

The e-commerce markets in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt are expected to grow the fastest globally in the next few years. The e-commerce market in the Arab World is currently the biggest, worth $7 billion, while Saudi Arabia, the second-largest market, is estimated to be worth $520 million.

Electronic commerce in the Middle East has generated substantial income and employment opportunities. Digital commerce firms are creating new jobs and major companies are giving opportunities to young people, which boosts the economy and prepares it for stable growth.

The Middle East’s improved logistics and relatively high smartphone and tablet penetration are set to increase substantially in the coming years. This gives it even more economic potential and has opened up a new era for regional e-commerce.

E-commerce in the Middle East reduces poverty by improving the flow of information and communication. It gives the poor access to information and can be used as a way of participating in the global economy. It also provides employment opportunities for young people and independent entrepreneurs alike. As it begins to reach its full potential, e-commerce will transform the entire region and prepare it for powerful integration into the increasingly virtual global economy.

Liliana Rehorn

Photo: Flickr