Social entrepreneur connects African women to global e-commerce
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Ella Peinovich is a MIT graduate and one of the three founders of Kenyan-based SasaAfrica, a women owned and operated social enterprise, which offers an innovative e-commerce platform for female artisans, vendors and entrepreneurs in Africa to create sustainable micro-enterprises using mobile phones.
This year Peinovich has been selected as one of five finalists for BiD Network’s Women in Business Challenge that focuses on women entrepreneurs in emerging markets. How we made it in Africa talks with Peinovich about social entrepreneurship and the role of Africa’s greatest untapped resource: women.
How did the idea for SasaAfrica come about?
I had been working within the informal settlements around Kenya over the past three years and saw the amazing cultural capital of the goods produced by the artisan community there and the disproportionately low economic value placed on their work. I was determined to create the tools and services that could enable these women to expand their access to consumers in a lasting and sustainable manner.
Can you give us an example of how SasaAfrica works?
SasaAfrica is an e-commerce platform for the developing world that promotes more equitable and distributed international trade by connecting offline artisans in the developing world to online global consumers. Vendors, with no need for the internet, create personal online storefronts and populate them with product information and images with the use of SasaAfrica’s accessible SMS-based mobile phone registry. Global consumers can then buy directly from the vendors on the SasaAfrica e-commerce website, revolutionising the supply chain into a person-to-person exchange.