You could certainly not accuse Mike Dola, chief executive officer (CEO) of Nigerian startup Cokodeal, of lacking ambition.
Launched in 2014, Cokodeal is a digital advertising platform for SMEs, allowing businesses to drive sales via its digital marketplace.
It offers small businesses marketing and increased visibility, and also offers business advisory services to guide an international commodity trader on fees, documentation and best practices.
Dola, who along with his co-founders has self-funded Cokodeal thus far, says the startup has no need for external funding and is determined to become a “unicorn” employing thousands of people by disrupting African trade.
“The SME digital advertisement and intra-Africa commodity trade to global market is a US$600 billion market. Cokodeal aims to be the company with the largest market share controlling commodity trade in Africa to global market,” he said.
The startup has made steady progress thus far, with over 1,000 merchants listed and over 4,000 users. Dola says Africa has millions of manufacturers and traders struggling to be found, as most have limited marketing budgets and little understanding of how to use digital media.
“Many foreign private ventures that want to invest or trade with African businesses do not have a trusted contact partner to deal with,” he said.
“Many African businesses do not have good trade knowledge to export their goods and receive funds from abroad.”
Cokodeal, which has already expanded to Tanzania, has established itself as the largest marketplace for “Made in Nigeria” goods. Dola says the size of the opportunity is “huge”.
“The amount of informal trade unrecorded by statistics is very large,” he said. “Uptake has been positive. We receive lots of enquiries from different countries within Africa and internationally for product sourcing information. We have also brokered many deals for businesses and created an easy medium for different unknown brands.”
Having already expanded outside of Nigeria, Cokodeal will be licensing to more African countries, such as Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, Rwanda and Angola, in early 2018, with an improved operating trade network. Dola is optimistic it will see a positive reaction in these new markets as well.
“Cokodeal is a fully designed multi-platform that allows localisation of the platform in each African country, the upload of products in local currencies, and is accessible in another country’s local currency,” he said.