The year 2020 remains embolden in the minds of many as no one especially startups and SMEs would be quick to forget what the pandemic-ridden year brought to the business table.
Many enterprises who still operated in the traditional brick and mortar stores were badly affected as they couldn’t make sales due to strict restrictions on movement.
However, in the midst of what appears to be chaos, some startups have created innovations that is solving a major challenge posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In July 2020, Motshidisi Joseph Ngaiti and William George Whittle owners of Essential to Survival Ltd in Botswana created Ponatshego, an online platform to provide an opportunity for African SMEs to transition from the conventional physical stores to an online market place.
Basically, Ponatshego was established during the intense heat of the lockdown to ease the way in which business was done in Botswana and the rest of Africa.
Businesses who get to register on the platform are then able to market their products or services online to a wider audience.
This in return gives their businesses a boost, thus ensuring that they enjoy an increase in sales and profit.
The techbuild.africa team caught up with Motshidisi Joseph Ngaiti, one of the founders who took us through a journey on the startup.
An overview of Ponatshego
Motshidisi Ngaiti took an online course in Ecommerce towards the tail end of 2019, but he didn’t utilize what he learnt after the study.
Fortunately for him, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck, he saw a window of opportunity applicable to SMEs with no online presence, thus alongside his friend, William George Whittle Ponatshego was co-founded based on his idea.
According to the founders, the main mission of the startup is to ease the challenges, vendors encounter in getting their products to the final consumer while offering the best in quality, offers and secured payment.
“Ponatshego achieves this through its online market where different vendors are given a platform to showcase all their products and are actually able to make the final sale no matter where they may be in the world, all through the Ponatshego online market”
Ponatshego’s digital platform is user-friendly enabling SME owners to navigate their way around with no difficulty; this ensures optimal user experience.
Also, customers have access to video clips educating them on how to use advertised products or services, thereby adding to customer experience and satisfaction.
He added, “We made sure our website is always quick, responsive, and easy to use, as Ecommerce is a fairly new concept to southern Africa customers, are still getting to trust and believe in it.”
How Ponatshego will achieve its mission and ease of doing business?
Motshidisi explains that the startup is currently looking to be the leading ecommerce platform in the Southern African region.
According to him, Pontashego’s main concern is to achieve this by providing shorter delivery times of 16 working days.
“We want same day delivery if anything at least 2 days and we can only do this by keeping stock and having a warehouse which is our current target, so we are on the hunt for the funds to do this.”
On the ease of doing business in Botswana and other African regions, Motshidisi said that the Pontashego since its launch has partnered with a local logistics startup company, Optic trade logistics who now takes care of Ponatshego’s shipping. This development has helped to reduced the startups’ shipping costs.
Ponatshego’s opportunity for all
Beyond SME owners, the startup has also afforded opportunities to non-business owners through its affiliate marketing program.
The program ensures that unemployed individuals earn money by creating Instagram posts to obtain a commission for their efforts.
Motshidisi revealed that Ponatshego is unique compared to the rest because it gives attention to its customers, making sure they derive maximum shopping experience.
“We believe this to be a brilliant offering, as well as different vendors are given an opportunity to showcase their products on a platform that allows them to fully showcase all angles of their products through responsive videos, resulting in better appreciation from the final consumer”
Ponatshego’s milestone and Expansion
The founder explained that Ponatshego’s first target was to complete its first online sales but had doubts on its success, however, there appeared to be turn around in expectations.
“Our first target was to complete the first online sale we weren’t sure we could do it, but it happened within our first month of launch, we were so excited, we then set a target to reach $30000 in sales and we did it by December 2020, 5 months in operation.”
Motshidisi further noted that from inception, the founders have been thinking beyond Botswana and across the Southern African region.
“It is our goal and we do currently deliver to South Africa and Namibia but want to add more southern
African countries to the list.” We are a self-funded entity and would like to get funding as we believe we have proven that our business is sustainable, our main goal is from here is build fulfillment warehouses and keep stock, we very much need funding for this.”, Motshidisi concluded
Featured Image: Motshidisi Joseph Ngaiti, Co-founder, Ponatshego
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