How Nigerian startup Chekkit tackles counterfeiting in all its forms

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Nigerian startup Chekkit has a big vision – one day, it hopes its labels will be a seal of quality for every great product, making sure people know the background of everything the consume.

Formed at the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) in Accra, Ghana, Chekkit has built a platform that tracks product movement and the parties involved in the transfer of products from warehouse to distributor, and on to the final consumer.

Essentially, Chekkit is an anti-counterfeiting, asset tracking and consumer feedback analytics tool. It produces tamper-proof unique ID labels, either as QR codes or numeric codes, which can be placed on premium packaged food and beverage products for supply chain and consumer feedback tracking.

For consumer feedback tracking, numeric codes on labels are authenticated via USSD at point of sale, with feedback and location also collected within this session and consumers rewarded with either instant airtime or loyalty points as incentives.

Meanwhile, the Chekkit mobile app is used to obtain and synchronise information on every unit’s movement from warehouse through to delivery point, and generate an invoice, helping businesses cut a three-day sales circle down to minutes. All supply chain activities can be tracked and traced on a dashboard in real time, while events captured by each of its unique ID labels are logged on the Ethereum blockchain network and encrypted to ensure data integrity.

The startup was formed after co-founders Dare Odumade and Jida Asare met while taking part in the MEST programme. Asare is a pharmacist and software developer who identified supply chain challenges caused by illicit drug traders, while Odumade, an inventor and UI/UX expert, was also interested in creating a supply chain solution to reduce counterfeiting in Africa.

“Reviewing past data, we found counterfeiting was reduced to 12 per cent in 2012 thanks to the existing Mobile Authentication Scheme (MAS) technologies provided by mPedigree and Sproxil, but suddenly from 2015 it rose again to over 40 per cent across Africa as a result of inefficiencies,” Odumade said.

These inefficiencies were mainly along the supply chain, at sensitive points where companies lose visibility on their distribution chain. Chekkit leverages a combination of existing technologies like MAS, artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain to solve these challenges.

Chekkit, which operates in both Nigeria and Ghana, has plans to expand into the rest of the continent and to Asia, but for now is working closely with a few enterprise companies, such as pharmaceutical producers and FMCG producers, as it continues building its technology.

“We are also actively looking to commence licensing of the Chekkit platform for enhancing excise tax-stamp systems in Ghana and NAFDAC’s serialisation policies in Nigeria through our interconnected anti-counterfeiting technology – enabling you and I report counterfeits while empowering producers to comply with government policies and greatly increase their ROI, a win-win situation for all,” said Odumade.

The startup has been bootstrapped until now, but is actively raising a pre-seed round with various investors. It was also until recently pre-revenue, but has now begun servicing a large-scale enterprise producer for a fee, with Chekkit codes being used by consumers to vote for their favourite video in a promotional campaign. Odumade said down the line it will charge either a flexible pay-as-you-use model or a yearly licensing fee for the Chekkit platform.

A major challenge is the fact that most of the pharmaceutical producers who wish to implement Chekkit’s technology are restrained because we it is not yet approved as a licensed anti-counterfeiting technology in Nigeria.

“With a license from the authorities in Nigeria and Ghana our technology will drastically reduce counterfeiting in Africa, enable the government and producers to have real-time market visibility, save lives of millions and adequately benefit the economy in the long term,” Odumade said.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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