Africa has rapidly learnt how to teach itself how to fish. All across the continent are home grown innovations geared towards making it easier for Africans to do business every day and slowly the solutions are beginning to bear fruit.
Take Duka Manager for instance. A little over a year ago, the Financial Sector Deepening Trust (FSDT) in Tanzania partnered with Pesapal on a pilot project to help under served businesses and enterprises in the large East African Country using technology A free, simple, fintech tool, accessible on a basic, entry level smartphone was created to help small and medium businesses manage their daily operations.
The tool, accessible as an App on the Google Play Store helps business owners take stock, manage inventory, record daily sales and generate credit reports, was recently rolled out across Dar Es Salaam.
Over the last month various merchants used Duka Manager for the first time and reaction has been mixed, with some business owners out rightly suspicious while others struggle with the task of digitizing their existing manual records. For some like Agnes, it’s a tool that will change how she does business.
Agnes sells solar powered devices on busy downtown street and the idea of not having to manually jot down each sale she makes is one she gladly welcomes. Its fast, it’s efficient and easy to retrieve and with credit facilities coming soon to the app, she hopes it will help her expand her small business.
Businesses that deal with large volumes of stock are also excited about the solution. In a shop filled with thousands of small parts for brands such as Scania and Mercedes, the ability to track every purchase is critical and one that Abu, the app’s first sign up, is eager to use.
Being able to comprehensively manage his stock allows him to order new parts on time, ensuring that he is able to add value to his business and gain a reputation as the shop with any and every part.
Challenges abound though, with the app proving a challenge for some who are still not tech savvy. Others struggle with the sheer volume of stock they have. Musa, a clothes trader, stores extra stock in his home and being able to sit down and take stock is a daunting task both a home and in the shop.
Other challenges experienced include access to smartphones, building user confidence and ensuring the app remains bug free and reliable. For now though, the tool’s outlook looks promising with additional features such as mobile money and card payment processing and credit facilities slowly being integrated to make it a one stop business tool.