Economics student Sibulele Mene’s belief that South African brands needed a place to shine, resulted in him establishing a digital mall.
AmazingMall Africa – a website for South African SMME-manufactured products – started operating in December.
“AmazingMall Africa was inspired by the need to support local entrepreneurs ranging from artisans, fashion designers, craftsman, authors and artists to market and distribute their product on a national scale through the use of e-commerce,” he told Vutivi News.
“We are an online marketplace which is championing South African brands. We are small businesses-centred, proudly South African and are committed to restoring and reshaping the local economy by supporting small businesses.”
Mene, who is from the Eastern Cape, spent last year ensuring that the site would work and be profitable.
“During lockdown I studied a variety of courses to help me on my e-commerce journey and did about 21 courses online on the whole e-commerce ecosystem to train myself and prepare as much as I could for AmazingMall Africa,” he said.
Mene believes SMMEs have a lot to benefit from using his site.
“AmazingMall Africa allows small business owners to promote, sell and make profit even in the absence of a brick and mortar shop,” he said.
“We make it quick and easy way to showcase your products and merchandise and it takes less than five minutes to register and list your products with us and reach over 18 million online shoppers in SA.”
Listing on the site is free and a “very small” commission fee must be paid after an SMME sells its products.
“Entrepreneurs who are very gifted and who create national and international quality products and brands are often neglected by the dominating retailers and are not given space to display or sell their products on shelves because of too much paperwork,” he said.
“So, we decided to build a platform where these quality brands can be promoted and made known at national scale throughout South Africa and Africa and eventually internationally.”
Mene said that he always knew that he was going to disrupt the market using technology in a positive way.
“I did not think that I would operate an e-commerce site when I was a child, because internet infrastructure was quite expensive and it was mostly a luxury service to middle class and rich people and the e-commerce adoption in South Africa was and still is low,” he remarked.
“Even as we speak, we are still at 2% penetration rate for online retail. On the other hand, I always knew that I would one day use technology to disrupt and change South Africa.”