Uganda's E-commerce Opportunities

After I read The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon , I’ve become a little more fascinated (I already was) by the internet.

My fascination has been about the internet's potential (especially with regards to Uganda and Africa as a whole) and how African ninjas are going to get us there.

Jeff Bezos

Ninja -- somebody who sets out to build the future (not just predict it) despite the obstacles.

I consider Bezos to be truly a ninja as he started selling books online from his home which grew into the Amazon "Everything store" and later into Amazon Web Services (AWS), not to mention venturing into devices like the popular Kindle.

Editor's Note: Amazon is expected to announce a new smartphone later today (18 June 2014) at an event in Seattle, USA.

Amazon '3D phone' launch - what can we expect?

Bezos has made it his sole mission to understand and serve his customers which is why I believe has led to his success.

Uganda's E-commerce Landscape

This brings me back to the topic of Uganda's E-commerce landscape, I’ve spoken to a number of entrepreneurs and developers in Uganda and they are always mentioning the many constraints to setting up an E-commerce site in Uganda . All I can say to them is that there’s ninjas out there who are attempting to jump those constraints and might actually be successful at this.

I know Uganda’s middle class is relatively small; however like most of Africa it is made up of consumers (as opposed to producers) in my opinion.

East Africa’s ride to Middle Income

Table: East Africa's ride to Middle Income (Source: World Bank)

Fast forward about twenty years from now and that middle class would probably have increased in size and those ninjas will surely be there to serve them.

I recently discovered Alexa - which is a website that ranks other website globally and locally according to country.

Using Alexa allowed me to locate the potential ninjas who are taking a shot at e-commerce in Uganda.

When I typed online shopping Uganda into Google, appeared among the top five searches.

EyeTrade Uganda

The business is founded and owned by Ugandans.

My first impression of their user interface was that it is very basic and seemed to suggest that their aim is to serve the customer and not give a fancy looking website.

The people behind this e-commerce site might not be US dollar millionaires but I’m pretty certain they are able to pay their bills.

Below is their Alexa score.

EyeTrade Alexa

Editor's Note: For reference and comparison purposes, see below their SimilarWeb analysis

EyeTrade SimilarWeb

This one I didn’t get from a Google search but by word of mouth from my mother, brother and friends who happen to be looking for cars to buy.

Cheki was started by Kenyan-Australian Internet entrepreneur, Carey Eaton, who sadly passed away recently in truly unfortunate circumstances. He also was a true ninja who pioneered Cheki in Kenya which is pretty popular there and also in Uganda.

Cheki's popularity is no surprise as second hand vehicles are a hot commodity among the middle class in Uganda.

Below is their Alexa score.

Cheki Uganda Alexa

Editor's Note: For reference and comparison purposes, see below their SimilarWeb analysis

Cheki Uganda SimilarWeb

I knew of Kaymu from a Google search using the phrase online shopping uganda. They are pretty new to the Ugandan e-commerce landscape.

This site happens to be backed by a European company, Rocket Internet, which happens to have millions of dollars in funding.

None the less they seem to have Ugandans' attention according to their ranking.

The first thing that caught my eye on this site is the price tags, products were going for as low as 3,000 Ugandan shillings (approximately $1.00) which created the impulse in me to actually shop there.

Below is their Alexa score.

Kaymu Uganda Alexa

Editor's Note: For reference and comparison purposes, see below their SimilarWeb analysis

Kaymu Uganda SimilarWeb


Above are the ninjas who are venturing onto a very scary and uncertain landscape in my opinion.

I believe our, Uganda, pioneers in e-commerce will not come from obvious places and probably not find them pitching ideas at start-up competitions , but out there working hard to win over Ugandan customers.

Cover Image Credit: Vince Alongi