Categories: Technology

Senegal’s corner shops go digital to track trade

Corner shops, markets and street traders are still the traditional way most Senegalese do their shopping, but micro-businesses are turning to digital means of tracking clients in the west African nation’s informal economy.

Amadou Bawol Bah, like many owners of the corner “boutiques” in Senegal, used to have a large ledger he filled in each day with purchases and credit offered to his customers.

“One day I was filling in some details and some cooking oil tipped onto the ledger,” he recalled of the moment in 2015 that wiped out years of careful bookkeeping.

Bawol Bah’s disaster became the inspiration for a locally-designed app called “Weebi”, meaning “easy” in the local Pulaar language, and the trader hasn’t looked back since downloading it.

“Weebi simplifies sales and my invoices. The tablet and smartphone replaces the notebook and pen,” explained Weebi’s co-founder Cheikh Sene, who began his start-up with two other Senegalese and a Frenchman.

A micro-printer for receipts completes the mix, Sene added.

– App ambitions –

Around half of Senegal’s registered businesses are one-man traders like Bawol Bah, according to government statistics, and operate at thin margins with clients often reliant on credit paid back at the end of the month.

In the case of accidents like Bawol Bah’s, the app comes with confidential backup for each user, according to Weebi, so data remains safe in case of loss or damage to a device.

After winning a prize for digital innovation at the Africa-France summit held in Bamako in January, Weebi’s ambitions are growing in the capital.

Although just 40 users so far have the app, which is a standalone download or can be bought for 118,000 FCFA ($200) preloaded onto a tablet, 300 clients have shown an interest in the product in the Dakar area.

Marieme Assietou Diagne, who manages a health food delivery business, says she has gained “more free time and better sales” since using the software.

“It helps us to follow clients — who are the regulars, the number of orders, and how many meals we are selling per day,” she told AFP. “We can reward loyal customers at the end of the month.”

– Overcoming illiteracy –

Other small business owners have begun using “Somtou”, a console launched in May with an interface specifically designed for Senegal’s majority illiterate population that works with icons and voice commands.

The upstart costs of buying a laptop and the electricity required to run it all day are prohibitive for most, and training in accountancy programmes or software such as Microsoft Excel hard to come by without paying for classes.

With sturdy casing and bright graphics, Somtou is aimed squarely at market traders and small businesses, said its Cameroonian creator Ted Boulou.

“It allows those in the informal sector to manage their work more effectively, and gives them more precise estimates of income, revenue and clients,” Boulou said.

That can empower them to better bargain wholesale costs and promotions, making businesses more effective, he added, while filing of tax returns and other government documents became simpler and more accurate.

Pricing is also flexible for clients without much upfront cash.

“Some will pay 13,000 FCFA ($22) per month for two years, or 500 FCFA (85 US cents) a day for two years,” Boulou explained, as the single payment of 275,000 FCFA was prohibitive for many — and he has taken 100 orders.

(Visited 2 times, 1 visits today)

Agence France-Presse is a global news agency delivering fast, in-depth coverage of the events shaping our world from wars and conflicts to politics, sports, entertainment and the latest breakthroughs in health, science and technology.

Published by
Tags: app

Recent Posts

  • Entertainment

Tusker Family has a new baby, Tusker Premium Ale.

When the invite says black tie, you know you are in for an unforgettable and exceptional treat all evening and…

March 22nd, 2019 6:00 pm
  • Art
  • Celebrities
  • Editors Pick
  • Entertainment
  • Featured Videos
  • The Good Life Cafe

Meet: Bradley Theodore

Bradley Theodore is a visual artist. Born in the Turks and Caicos Islands, he now resides in New York City.he…

March 22nd, 2019 2:35 pm
  • Dating
  • Editors Pick
  • Relationships

Possible reasons you keep falling for the wrong men

Dear lady, you see yourself as a good woman but you wonder why you keep attracting the wrong men. Below…

March 22nd, 2019 10:06 am
  • Celebrities

Need Inspo to quit Booze? Well, Will Smith didn’t drink for a decade!

Will Smith "didn't drink for over a decade" when he was starting his acting career, because he wanted to keep…

March 21st, 2019 12:15 pm
  • Dating
  • Editors Pick
  • Relationships

How to date for marriage

People date with a future in mind. No one wants to exclusively commit to a relationship that doesn't yield a…

March 21st, 2019 11:06 am
  • Celebrities
  • Entertainment

Wendy Williams seeking help from her past cocaine addiction

US daytime talk show host Wendy Williams has been secretly living in a sober house, a confession that has shocked many. On Tuesday,…

March 20th, 2019 7:00 pm