SA township-mapping startup offers value to FMCG companies

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South African startup Eneodata is providing location intelligence data from townships to fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies to help them derive better value and create opportunities for local people.

Founded in 2018, Eneodata is a location intelligence and analytics company focused on unlocking the value of the informal market through mapping economic activities in difficult-to-see spaces.

The startup was launched by Vusi Vuma, who has over 15 years of experience in insights and technology in the FMCG, telecoms and financial services sectors, upon his realisation that there was a dearth of data on economic activities in informal markets in Africa and other emerging economies. 

“There is limited location intelligence data available about most parts of the African continent, specifically areas outside of the main urban metros. The informal economy In South Africa is estimated to be worth over ZAR600 billion (US$35 billion). One of the greatest challenges relating to the informal market is the lack of insights about the market, its key drivers and value streams,” he told Disrupt Africa.

Current base maps, like those provided by Google, are built on search business models, and do not sufficiently cover economically marginal places like township, peri-urban and rural locations. 

“Location sits at the core of customer insights and provides a base on  which insights can be overlayed. Given the ubiquity of mobile phones in those markets, and that most of these phones are smartphones, it is possible to start collecting data about those markets using location as the base layer,” Vuma said.

That is what Eneodata does. It maps points of interest (POI) in townships in order to enable FMCG firms to have more visibility of their supply chain and conduct retail audits. The hope is that it will also enable the gig economy.

It is still early days for Eneodata and its tech, but the company has recently entered into an agreement with one of South Africa’s leading insurance companies to provide location intelligence data for its SME insurance division, which is looking at expanding into the townships.

Vuma said the startup planned on securing more such clients in South Africa, and roll out to the rest of the continent within the next two-to-five years. To do that Eneodata, which is self-funded and makes money from subscriptions and the solutions it builds on top of the data collected, will need investment. Yet Vuma said securing it has been a struggle.

“Outside of fintech, interest in other sectors such as ours seems very limited within the thin list of VCs, angel investors and PE firms looking at Africa,” he said.

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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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