Ethiopian startup Store251 sources ethically produced and handmade products from local designers – both new and well-established – and sells them online to international clients.
Founded in 2014, Store251 is a marketplace for “Made in Ethiopia” products like bags, footwear and accessories, combining these unique locally-made products with quick delivery to overseas customers.
“We identified a communication gap between product suppliers and the target market about product information, logistics and marketing in general,” said Maedot Assefa, founder and general manager of Store251.
Having identified these gaps, the startup sought to fill them, and over time its platform has developed quite the reputation.
“The initial stage was hard, and discouraging at times,” Assefa said. “Much of the challenge was convincing suppliers to work with us. The concept of selling online and using distribution channels to drive sales was not common. Once we established trust with our suppliers it got better.”
Suppliers became convinced, and after a while, so did a strong enough customer base. Store251 is now delivering in North America and a few countries in Europe, but Assefa said it still has a long way to go.
“We still have many of our plans to execute. Now we want to strengthen the trust from online shoppers in different countries to buy Ethiopian products,” she said.
“We really want to collaborate with other African designers and expand into African markets.”