It is a significant turnaround in activity indicating that Small and Medium Enterprises are seeking cheaper options of doing business in today’s Uganda which is characterised by high operational costs.
For developed countries, online trading is a popular means of doing business. It is viewed as a convenient, effective and usually comes with the security aspect as money and goods are transferred from the buyer to the seller with no physical contact. This trend is gradually taking shape in Uganda.
Recently, Kampala Money Mart launched an online portal www.kampalamart.com, a platform aimed at linking buyers and sellers.
It is a market where sellers can freely display their merchandise to attract clientele. The goods on display range from cars, electronics, clothing, and other house items.
According to Mr Roger M. Shillingi, the Public Relations Officer of Kampala Mart, online trading helps in times of economic crisis as it reduces on the day-to-day business expenses. It is free and it eliminates middlemen who usually take a percentage on money paid.
“Even when you are hit by the economic crisis, you can display your goods on this online portal. Such trading keeps going on provided you can still access internet,” he says.
“In Uganda, we have a big number of small and midsized business operators. These people have businesses but many cannot afford mainstream advertising. With this website, such people can advertise their goods for free.
The procedure is simple; sign in as a member, upload details about your goods and you will be viewed by the growing number of online visitors. There is no limitation on what commodity to advertise.”
He says this platform always links buyers and sellers and after getting the connections, they can link up to proceed with business transactions with no destruction from middlemen.
“With this new portal, Ugandans can transact businesses with no middlemen. You simply visit the website and upload the details of your commodities.”
Other people will also visit the website and check out the goods on display. Any potential buyers will then get the contacts of the seller and negotiate on the terms of purchase without involvement of middlemen,” he says.
MTN also has a commercial partnership with CNN Marketplace Africa. Under this partnership, African businesses will receive exclusive publicity from CNN Marketplace Africa.
This online platform gets up close with the major players and innovators in Africa with intent of developing African enterprises. Marketplace Africa has links that are directly connected to the MTN business website (www. mtnbusiness.com).
Speaking in Kampala last week, Mr Themba Khumalo, the MTN Uganda chief executive officer, said this partnership will help African businesses develop at relatively fast pace. .
“Even though we are late entrants to the use of modern technology, we can still benefit from it. With this MTN-CNN partnership, Africa now has a catalyst that will help Africa businesses move forward. Africans are now connected to modern and widely used technologies,” he said.
Mr Khumalo called upon Ugandans to come up with more original and innovative ideas that will put Uganda among the champions of development in Africa.
Minus websites that are fully committed to providing business news, links and solutions, there are also a number of pages on social networking websites used to propel business.
They include Trade Links Africa and Zillion Club Classifieds both on Facebook.
These groups are online markets that link buyers and sellers with a membership of more than 25,000 people each.
Such business platforms are expected to continuously increase as Uganda switches from traditional means of doing business to modern and advanced trends.
Mohammed Kaliisa, one of the clients of Kampalamart says that this innovation is very useful for the Ugandan market.
In just three weeks, he says that he has been able to sell a car and also in negotiations with customers who want to buy laptops.
“The website is very useful. I opened my account three weeks back and I posted my items including a car, electronics and laptop bags.
Last week, I managed to reach a deal and sold the car at 18 million. I am also in negotiations with people who want to buy second hand laptops.”