Africa’s Alibaba – Makes in Road for Made in Africa

COKODEAL.COM, usually referred to as Africa’s alibaba.com, sell only goods produced in Africa to customers around the world. The online marketplace is available in Nigeria, Angola, Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, and Tanzania.

We had the opportunity to email interview the Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Cokodeal.com, Mr. Mike Dola who’s part of the Africans Building Africa Community.  In this interview, he talks about his Cokodeal vision, and why he believes that Trade not aid will lead Africa from a 3rd world to 1st world.

  1. Tell us about yourself and your organization

Cokodeal.com connects businesses that sell only goods produced in Africa to customers around the world
Cokodeal is an online ecommerce marketplace that helps to increase sales for Local manufacturers and exporters with best-in-class sourcing and negotiation technology to help sourcing agents access a growing network of suppliers and buyers.
It is Africa’s premier online B2B platform, an e-strategy and sales advisory company.
The inspiration behind cokodeal is that Africa is mostly perceived as a dominant consumer nation, however we have what we are rich in, from Arts and Crafts, to minerals, locally produced goods and agriculture. That we can sell to the world if we have the enabling platform.
More also, most Africans and diaspora do not know how rich we are especially what is produced in some African countries in what quantity. We see the need to showcase diverse goods across countries in the continent for an increase in trade flow.

  1. How much did you need to start your organization and how were you able to raise that capital? 

It was gradual; as we did not get a full funding from day one go. However, totally we have expended about $120,000 from its inception in 2012, in software development, marketing, hiring and general operations. Majority of the funds were generated from Co-founders. Funds included co-founders savings, personal items sold, short loans, and soft stakes trade.

  1. What are some of the challenges you face in your organization and how do you overcome those challenges?

Firstly, it was challenge of a world class IT infrastructure, which we had to outsource to a big partner company in England UK, to build in 2012. Secondly, it was educating our clients after launch of cokodeal platform, how a marketplace works and why it is necessary to join to increase sales of goods in the global economy. Thirdly, it was forex, paying in British Pound Sterling at an astronomical exchange rate, forced us to migrate our platform to a robust Swiss IT firm that operates in Nigeria (Ringier Digital marketing that owns pulse.ng and dealdey.com)
Succinctly, the challenges are numerous over the past four years, however we device an alternate method to mitigate it in a lean form.

  1. Where do you see your organization in 5 years from now and what steps are you taking today to reach that objective?

For cokodeal.com to be Africa’s largest goods and services platform for local commodity trade produced solely in Africa. Firstly we are licensing the multi-platform to other commerce zones in Africa to be operated by a local industrialist. Secondly, in each country we expand by having numerous sales agents across the region to manage local traders, so as to deepen the market reach to far end of each country. Lastly, we have designed the platform on cokodeal.com, to have a centralized trade for it to have each unique homepage for each country, each unique country currency of goods, and unique country price to upload goods using local price.
This enables a massive trade without changing from one time local domain to another for example cokodeal.com.ke or cokodeal.gh. Also doing price conversion for goods in other countries. Everything will be done on cokodeal.com

  1. What advice would you give other entrepreneurs looking to start a business or invest in Africa?

Dream Big, Get collaborative; solve a commercial local problem that can be paid for not just what makes you feel good. Be long term focused, to be able to withstand shortcomings in the early days and have the grit to retain same energy level and enthusiasm for a long term.
For entrepreneurs looking to invest in Africa, work with locals, or be on ground yourself and get local knowledge, not just bringing a foreign successful idea directly to Africa.

  1. How is your business participating to the development of Africa?

Cokodeal mission is to connect intra Africa trade to global market. The ultimate challenge most local producers in Africa face is low sales patronage or weak profit return which leads to them unable to improve their wellbeing as needed. We aim to improve sales for majority of African traders to increase the growth of their business, bridge middlemen works, employ more hands and increase output.
The returns that are generated from exports will improve the GDP of these countries and currency valuation due to trade of balance.
Ultimately, goal of cokodeal is making Africa a great continent that relies more on trade and not aid, leading Africa from 3rd world continent to 1st world.

About
Amadou is a Social Entrepreneur, Business Coach, Public Speaker, and Promoter of African Entrepreneurship. Passionate about Africa and Entrepreneurship, Amadou’s mission is to work with African Entrepreneurs to bring out their stories and support them. As the Host of Africans Building Africa Podcast, Amadou loves to chat with African Entrepreneurs to deliver informative and inspiring content to Africans who would like to start a business or invest in Africa.

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