Entrepreneurs in the United States have been developing a new online cross border trade between the U.S. and Africa due to the recent demand for goods between the two regions.
At Silicon Valley’s eBay headquarters, head of U.S. exports Tomas Ponce De Leon is eyeing a new venture.
It’s the Made For Africa eBay storefront, which sells jewelry, clothes and crafts all from Africa. But it’s a two-way street-allowing U.S. vendors to get into Africa too.
“The African E-commerce market is estimated at 24 billion, and it’s growing at 25 percent on a year on year basis. So there is a ton of opportunity going in and shipping to Africa is quite complicated, right? And that’s where you have great partnerships, and that’s where you have Mall for Africa coming in and really taking the pain point away,” said Leon.
The driving force behind Mall For Africa is Nigerian American Chris Folayan who created the African Made Products Standard to guarantee authenticity and quality of the goods that come from Africa.
And for African buyers, the site allows them to buy products from more than 200 stores in the U.S.
Folayan came up with the idea when he was prevented from flying to Nigeria with ten suitcases filled with US products even though he was willing to pay for the excess baggage.
“It dawned on me that every time I went back home I kept taking more and more suitcases. People had access, they knew what they wanted and they wanted to buy products directly from the US but they could see it, they could find it on the internet but nobody shipped to the continent,” he said.
The Mall for Africa warehouse in Oregon is where U.S. stores first send their products.
Folayan said they can ship these products to buyers in Nigeria, Kenya, Rwanda, Mauritius or Ghana within just three days.
“We figured out what was the best way to get products into the country, making sure we are paying our taxes and our duties. So we came up with the idea of having pickup locations all across the country and if you had an address that was kind of fuzzy, just pick up your item at your local pickup location,” he added.
Mall for Africa is also incorporating their concept into another brand called Mall For The World, which helps bring U.S. and African products into markets worldwide.