Congolese mobile device startup VMK has opened its first store in Ivory Coast, with plans to be present in five West African countries by year end.
The Abidjan-based store will sell only VMK products, and will be manned by 10 members of staff; with the company saying the new store is the first step in a regional expansion push.
VMK plans to open four further stores across Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Cameroon and Senegal by the end of 2015; bringing the hardware startup’s products to five countries in the region.
“The opening of a store in Abidjan is an essential step in the extension of our Pan-African vision. It is here, at the crossroads of West Africa, that VMK has decided to embark upon conquering the new class of African consumers,” said founder of VMK, Vérone Mankou.
Launched in the Republic of Congo in 2009, VMK produces low-cost mobile devices – feature phones, smartphones and a tablet – specifically designed for the African market. The company is set to roll-out its second tablet offering in March.
“My underlying ambition is to bridge the digital gap in Africa. These VMK stores are being set up to make new technologies accessible to as many people as possible,” Mankou said.
VMK devices have to date been manufactured in China; however, the company has announced plans to launch a assembly plant in the Republic of Congo – the factory apparently under construction in Brazzaville, with planned output to be over 350,000 units per month.
More than 90 local staff are to man the plant, and are in the process of being trained by a Chinese partner company.