Bringing convenience to direct selling and e-commerce in Africa
Direct selling provides opportunities for side income and entrepreneurship across the globe, but in emerging markets like Africa its popularity truly began to pick up in the late 2010s as local infrastructure and accessibility features started to improve.
The African direct selling industry today is in its growth stage, but reports show that this industry is growing at a steady pace because of the rise of micro-entrepreneurship through gig economy jobs in the region. This can be attributed partially to the fact that most direct selling business models have low barrier to entry and flexible hours, but a large proportion of its success is due to the rise of e-commerce within the African region.
It would be hard to find a direct selling company in Africa that does not currently possess an online component to their services. Utilising e-commerce platforms as part of the direct selling business model is the logical course considering its current trajectory; McKinsey reports that the value of the African e-commerce market will reach US$2.1 trillion by 2025, a number bolstered by the fact that more than 40% of all Africans can now access some sort of internet from their homes which leads to increased access to e-retailers and online services alike. The global pandemic also played a significant role, driving distributors and customers to rely on e-commerce transactions to meet their demands for products.
QNET, a direct selling company with customers in different parts of sub-Saharan Africa, is integrating direct selling, e-commerce, and Mobile Money to chart the next evolution of the local direct selling scene.
Mobile payment systems such as M-PESA outlined accelerated growth for the e-commerce industry as it has proven to be a more effective medium for transactions. These payment systems enabled wider financial inclusion, reduced fraud and theft risk, and eliminated the dependency on middlemen for money transfers in many African countries. By 2019, Mobile Money had 1 billion registered users in Africa.
With the introduction of Mobile Money as a payment method, QNET wants to make it easier for its distributors to build and grow their business. The biggest benefit of using Mobile Money is that it is directly linked to a mobile number instead of a bank account, making it safer and more effective than other payment methods as funds can be accessed and tracked easily from your mobile phone anytime and anywhere.
Women, in particular, find mobile wallets very convenient as it gives them unprecedented access to opportunities for flexible work such as the direct selling business. With more than half of the direct selling industry being women, integrating Mobile Money will support them in building their network due to the increased accessibility it provides.
With a growing population of more than 400 million internet users, the next decade for e-commerce and m-commerce in Africa is looking brighter than ever. Direct selling companies like QNET that have incorporated e-commerce as an integral part of their business model are able to capitalise on this trend and grow their market base. The inclusion of mobile payments will create an increasingly favourable environment for those aspiring to start their own business through direct selling.
Currently, QNET has rolled out Mobile Money for its customers and distributors in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, and Ghana and is planning further expansion in sub-Saharan Africa. Mobile Money is presently available through these mobile network operators:
- Burundi: Econet
- Cameroon: MTN, Orange Money
- Ghana: MTN, Airtel Tigo, Vodafone
- Kenya: M-Pesa, Airtel Money, Equitel
- Rwanda: MTN, Airtel
- Tanzania: Airtel, Tigo, Vodacom M-Pesa
- Uganda: MTN, Airtel
- Zambia: MTN, Zamtel, Airtel