Best Ideas 2019 features all the nominated entries submitted under ‘Submit your Idea’ category. All the entries consist of innovative solutions or propositions for an enterprise that champions the Sustainable Development Goals. They can be on the conceptual, planning, or start-up stage.
Explain your idea in details:
The problem statement: (a) there is a lack of coordination amongst African brands, merchants and artisans across the beauty, fashion and lifestyle industries; (b) consumers and small and large businesses face high transactional costs from having to source materials and products across the continent. Kikemi was founded as a result of the problems faced by consumers and businesses looking to source products such as cocoa butter, shea butter, coconut oil, moringa oil, clothes, shoes, accessories, and so on, from different African vendors. There are several bottlenecks that arise from these transactions, which amount to a loss of over $10bn per annum (UNCTAD), such as multiple and high shipping costs (from having to deal with different vendors), language barriers, inability to access offline vendors that offer niche products and services, and so on. Value proposition: a desktop and mobile online platform that coordinates and curates African brands and products from across Africa, and connects consumers to multiple vendors. In order to achieve our value proposition for both sellers and consumers, Kikemi aims to create value in the long-tail of the beauty, fashion and lifestyle chain by making it more coordinated and efficient through technology and empowerment. Using technology, we aim to promote connectivity and coordinate payments and logistics. Through empowerment, we aim to support offline vendors, communities and local businesses with everything they need to run a successful online business from design and branding to shipping logistics and customer service. By doing so, we are synchronising a very disorganised industry and offering the best value to both vendors and B2C and B2B clients.
Expected impact of your idea on sustainable development
It is our goal to partner with local communities and womens associations in arts and craft, Shea butter, cocoa butter, coconut oil etc. We aim to support these African women and communities through economic empowerment. We will partner with them by selling their goods worldwide, whilst funding educational and business programmes for them in business management, entrepreneurship, financial literacy and technology. We hope we are able to help these populations break cycles of poverty by connecting them with global markets in which to sell their goods, and effectively manage and grow their own businesses. By doing so, we also aim to eliminate middle men many of whom exploit women and youths in these industries by paying meager wages. Furthermore, the idea behind Kikemi is closely related to the SDG Goals 8 and 9 as we aim to provide technological solutions as a means of connecting offline merchants across Africa. By doing so, we are providing new jobs and expanding merchants volume of production and services, particularly amongst populations who are easily susceptible to living under extreme poverty line. Our target at the point of launching is to begin with 20 merchants, 18 of whom we have already established relationships with. We aim to increase their present revenues from the industries in which they participate in by 100% within a year. In order to achieve this, we would market their products to a global audience as well as fund the relevant trainings needed for them to move up the value chain. We would measure progress by evaluating the impact of the programmes on their skills as well as monitor sales through marketing techniques used.
Plans for implementation and sustainability
Although subscription with Kikemi is free for all vendors, its planned channels of revenue include: Retailing products Inventory management in fulfilment centers (marketplace) Digital ads services on website to gain visibility (retail and marketplace) Commission fee from each transaction (marketplace) Premium delivery fee subscription in Nigeria and the U.K. (buyers retail and marketplace) Wholesale and private labelling for clients For now, Kikemi is self funded. I aim to start with wholesale and private labelling in order to gain traction and pilot the business idea. Subsequent funding would be sought from impact investors given our vision and mission. Our initial collaborators are offline vendors and artisans especially in Shea butter, cocoa butter, Moringa oil and coconut oil communities.
I am a 25 year old Nigerian with a first class degree in Economics and Politics from Newcastle University, and a master degree from the University of Cambridge. The inspiration behind starting this business is a long one. In Short, I had a relationship with my late-great-grand-mother, who sold Shea butter, African black soap, and arts and crafts in order to afford primary education for my grand-mother, who did the same in order to educate my mother all through to medical school. It took two generations of African women who were involved in skincare inputs and African arts and crafts to break a generational cycle of poverty. I am lucky as most do not have the same story. I am, therefore, motivated by the several women, youths and men who are offline merchants yet produce goods in high demand but are still battling cycles of poverty due to inaccessibility, lack of technology, illiteracy, and much more. Simultaneously, I am motivated to solve the problem for customers and businesses that cannot easily access these products at an affordable price due to high shipping and transactional costs from having to deal with several suppliers at once. I am best suited to solve this problem as not only do I have fine knowledge of the industry and have an existing network of online and offline merchants, but also, I have experienced how frustrating the problem of dealing with multiple vendors can be, and understand the intricate details behind the lack of connectivity. As a result, I would focus on the integrity of the curation and organisation. Kikemi must be efficient and reliable to its clients; whilst upholding its values of building a culture of micro entrepreneurship amongst talented vendors who have big dreams but need to be economically empowered.