How Senegal’s Shopmeaway helps users buy goods from overseas stores

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Senegalese startup Shopmeaway is using funding obtained through its country’s government to scale its platform that allows users to purchase goods from overseas.

Launched four years ago, Shopmeaway helps users make purchases from e-commerce platforms like Amazon and stores such as Zara and H&M, even if those companies themselves do not deliver to Senegal.

Providing an online middleman service that cuts delivery costs by three times, the startup has already served over 2,400 users for more than 17,000 orders, and made revenues of US$300,000 in 2018. 

Founder Racine Sarr initially launched Shopmeaway using personal shoppers armed with cameras, later pivoting to a more simple and cost effective application that allows users to buy products from any website in the world. 

“In Senegal, people want to buy on websites such as Amazon, Zara, and H&M, but those ones do not deliver in Senegal and very frequently do not accept payments from Africa. This problem is spread across Africa, but also Latin America and Southeast Asia,” he told Disrupt Africa.

Now, armed with EUR100,000 (US$110,000) in funding secured late last year from the Senegalese government through its Délégation de l’Entrepreneuriat Rapide (DER) startup financing initiative, it is working to bring offline merchants online.

“We have started our African Product Digitalisation Project, which should bring millions of offline items across Africa onto the e-commerce market. We give small producers a chance to get more from their work, while bringing to the world innovative and authentic products,” Sarr said.

“The e-commerce market has been missing millions of offline products from small producers across emerging markets. On the rare marketplaces where you can find those products, the price is high, and the producer gets a very small percentage because they are uploaded by intermediaries.”

With the DER funding, Shopmeaway has initiated this project, but also upgraded its app and website, and improved its customer service. Already active in The Gambia as well as its home market, Sarr plans to expand the startup’s operations to Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and Morocco in the near future. 

Shopmeaway has both direct and indirect revenue streams, the former coming from charging customers logistics and transaction fees, and the latter from affiliate programmes and promoted listings fees.

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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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