Launched in 2014, the UK – Nigerian ecommerce site, Cokodeal.com , continues to grow as a marketplace for the exchange of locally produced African goods. Serving over 400 merchants and 80,000 monthly visitors to the site, cokodeal.com has already expanded into a bold, creative and visionary enterprise since its genesis. CEO of Cokodeal.com, Michael Dola, said at a press conference when the site was first launched that “ [Cokodeal.com] was a dream born not out of a quest for personal prosperity; it is a product of an ardent desire for an Africa that will not be at the mercy of foreign aids, but a continent that will be the convergent point of global trade.”
According to Dola, “Cokodeal.com is Africa’s largest local content ecommerce site, with a presence in Tanzania, Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria, Rwanda, Kenya, and Zambia.” Dola recognized the problem of many African markets being consumer based, and he understood the potential of the African continent’s natural and human resources. He endeavoured to find a way to help tap into that potential and help African nations transition “from the third world to first world.”
The African continent is the second largest in the world, and one that is rich with natural resources. According to the African Natural Resources Center (ANRC) , Africa contains 30% of the world’s known reserves of minerals and the largest cobalt, diamonds, platinum, and uranium reserves in the world. Africa also has a booming population that is expected to hit one billion in 2016 .
But even with all of the vast resources across the continent, over half of trade in Africa is in the informal sector, according to the Chatham House UK in 2015. To help break into that sector and draw the trade out of the informal sector, Cokodeal.com’s vision and mission is to “improve wellbeing of Africans’ through trade and to connect Intra – Africa trade to the global market.” To do that, the site offers a platform for farmers, artisans, and manufacturers to be able to sell their products at wholesale. All goods that are being sold must be made in Africa, but the types of products are vast, including food, textiles, leather, minerals, and crafts. The traders on Cokodeal.com help support the business with their monthly subscriptions and paying for adverts on the site. In return, Cokodeal provides an online platform that easily manages the trade of capital.
Cokodeal.com also helps find new buyers in new markets for the merchants selling on the site, and in turn continues to work toward its mission to be an important factor in the growth of intraAfrican trade. There is little overhead tied to Cokodeal as the products do not need to be managed or delivered by the site. Dola says , “Our revenue structure of monthly subscription and advertisements both from our clients and external organisation will leave us with an above average return that will yield 120% yearly increase after the first year.” A leaner business model helps Cokodeal.com be able to focus its return on being able to expand the site and markets for its traders.
Cokodeal.com is a very miniature version of Asia’s Alibaba.com , the global leader in the online, business to business, consumer to consumer, and consumer to business marketplace. To put it in perspective, Alibaba was founded by Jack Ma in 1999, in SanFrancisco, California, as a gateway for Chinese manufacturers to reach Western and Asian buyers. In September of 2014, Alibaba floated an Initial Public Offering (IPO) which raised $25 billion. Its market capitalization at the time was $231 billion. It has since dropped to $212 billion. Cokodeal’s platform is quite similar, and the business model of Alibaba it mimics is a proven model, which bodes well for Dola and his enterprise.
As the site continues to grow, Dola said in an interview with Nairametrics that “with [their] improved search optimized site more businesses have begun to get more calls from as far zones as Europe, Cameroon and other parts of Africa to place large orders for their goods like ginger, cocoa, and shoes.” Currently Cokodeal.com has specialized homepages for six countries: Nigeria, Tanzania, Angola, Ghana, Kenya, and South Africa. It also allows the use of 14 different currencies to make it easier for international business between buyers and sellers.
When asked where he sees Cokodeal.com in the future, Dola said that in one year, Cokodeal.com should be able to “deploy a robust working system to bridge African trade.” In five years, they hope to “have the ability to give interest free loans to [their] trusted businesses on the platform for long-term investment, with ease of capital accessibility.” And in ten years, Dola said, “We see Cokodeal to coordinate export trade of at least 58 percent of African trade.”
In an interview with CNBC Africa , Dola said that “Growth is a gradual thing and progress is a slow process.” While there is still much progress to be made for the African continent to become the powerhouse it can be, entrepreneurial endeavours like Cokodeal.com encourage local production and intraAfrican trade and are proof that positive change is happening for African nations to become global trading partners through Africans and their locally produced goods.
As featured on Unleash Africa. Courtesy Africa Trade Group. www.unleashafricatrade.com and www.africatradegroup.net
Editor: Gayle Cottrill