Rwanda’s Yubeyi tapping in to country-wide shift to online

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Online marketplace Yubeyi has launched in Rwanda, responding to the country’s momentous shift to the online space.

Speaking to Disrupt Africa, founder of Yubeyi Christophe Nkurunziza said Rwanda is experiencing a widespread shift to the online sphere, with the government encouraging the uptake of internet-enabled services in daily life.  This trend presents a big opportunity, he says, and prompted the launch of Yubeyi.

“Every service in Rwanda is moving to be internet-based and the government is pushing Rwandans to adopt the use of  technology in daily life. Now 70 per cent of the population has mobile phones, and most of them are smartphones. Six millions Rwandans use mobile money payment services, up to 30 per cent use internet. We have free WiFi in public places and even free WiFi in buses, so all these factors influenced us to start this business,” Nkurunziza says.

“We launched in May this year, because there is a lot opportunity in e-commerce in Rwanda.”

The Yubeyi platform provides a marketplace for sellers to list and sell their products to a wider audience. Individuals and small entrepreneurs can use the platform alongside larger companies and brands, with the platform intended to empower small vendors as well as boost sales for established companies.  

“You do not even to have a physical shop, you can keep your inventory under your bed, list products online and start getting some money. This will help not only big sellers but also small entrepreneurs to start selling online without the need of a physical store,” Nkurunziza says.

“We have also partnered with top brands like Samsung, Tecno, Sharp, Konka, and many more, and we are always looking for others to list their products.”

Since launching in May, Yubeyi has seen transactions totalling RWF1,526,200 (US$2,078) occur via its platform, which Nkurunziza says is encouraging given the limited products listed in the early days of operation.

The startup is currently focusing on rapidly expanding its catalogue, with a target of 25,000 products listed on the platform within the next few months.

For the moment, Nkurunziza concedes the key difficulty for e-commerce sites in Rwanda is the population’s lack of trust in card-based online payments.  As such, Yubeyi currently functions on a pay-on-delivery model, but is in the process of integrating the country’s mobile money platforms.

So what does the future hold? Nkurunziza says he does not plan international expansion, but wants to tackle the Rwandan market first.

“For now, we are serving Rwandans only, and we look to expand in the next years,” Nkurunziza says.

“We also want to create a specialized store for handcrafts made in Rwanda only, so that people outside the country can buy them and we’ll ship to their countries,” he says.

“We hope Rwandans will use the platform because they can find lots of information, and great deals without wasting time.”

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Inspired and excited by the African tech entrepreneurial scene, Gabriella spends her time travelling around the continent to report on the most innovative tech startups, the most active investors, and the latest trends emerging in the ecosystem.

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