Seedstars Botswana winner Bua App improving brand accountability

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It might not have started making revenues yet, but the winner of the Seedstars World Botswana event is certainly seeing traction as it attempts to make brands more accountable.

Disrupt Africa reported earlier this month Bua App, a wildcard entry, was named winner of the Seedstars World event in Botswana over the weekend. The startup will now head to Switzerland to pitch for up to US$1 million in investment at the global final next year.

It is certainly an innovative idea, even if the company has yet to make any money as it focuses on building its user base. “Bua” is the Setswana word for “speak”, and the app allows consumers in Botswana to report their customer service experiences with a variety of businesses.

The startup’s online and Android platform gives consumers the chance to express themselves, offering companies insights into their level of service. Bua uses a traffic light system, with red meaning poor service, orange average, and green excellent.

Consumers write their reports for free, with Bua planning to charge businesses to allow them to respond. This service is currently free, but next year the startup will start selling “response bundles” to businesses.

It only launched in May, but Bua App has already signed up almost 900 users and 52 businesses. Over 1,000 consumer reports have been generated thus far.

“In some places in Botswana, customer service leaves a lot to be desired, yet in other places, the customer care is exceptional,” director Neo Marti told Disrupt Africa.

“Bua is not only about reporting bad service, it is also about reporting good service in any industry.”

She said the idea for the app had come about when she became a mother and had to leave her newborn at home to go to the bank.

“As any mother can imagine, being a first-time mom and having to leave your newborn who is just a few weeks old is a daunting task. My transaction at the bank took me five hours. And after these five hours, I got home and realised that I had to go back the next day because they had made crucial grammatical errors,” Marti said.

“Again, I spent three hours fixing what had already taken five hours to complete. I started to become very frustrated. This happened all too often. The bad service meant leaving my newborn for hours and would sometimes result in me trying to run the same errand for days without anything materialising.”

Bua is designed to provide a more effective complaints procedure for consumers than approaching companies or ranting on social media.

“As much as it feels like a relief to vent on these platforms, there is little to no accountability for the organisations. The organisation relevant to your complaint or compliment will most likely not see the post, let alone have the possibility to respond,” she said.

“I thought, if we have a site for Botswana where you can compliment an organisation or post a complaint, we will have a better idea of where to go in future, as we can look at ratings online on one portal as consumers, and companies can gain essential feedback from their clients.”

The self-funded Bua App has plans to expand outside of Botswana at the earliest opportunity, but for now is focused on getting more users.

“Our biggest challenge is that we have introduced a new concept to the market. Thus, we have to create a lot of awareness and explain the concept and process,” said Marti.

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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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