#Africa You can buy everything on your shopping list thanks to this startup


Zimbabwean startup FigJam is making sure the country’s grocery stores stay well stocked, and is doing such roaring business, the startup is expanding to Tanzanian and Zambian shops too.

“How often do you walk into your local grocery store for your weekly shop, only to find that 20 per cent of your shopping list is not on the shelves that day?  For many emerging African markets, this is commonplace: it is a bugbear for consumers, retailers and suppliers alike,” Winston Taylor, co-founder of FigJam, sets out the gap in the market.

FigJam operates a mobile software app designed to improve productivity, efficiency and accountability in the business of distributing fast moving consumer goods (FMCG).

Built from the ground up based on supplier input, by syncing to the cloud, the FigJam app provides management teams with real-time information on a host of aspects in the supply chain, from stocking densities to streamlined order processing, whilst giving managers automated reporting on field agent productivity.

“This is a win win for management and field teams alike – it gives both the opportunity to do away with old ‘analogue’ processes involving pen and paper, and creates a fresh environment where they can use technology to improve the quality and quantity of their output”, says co-founder David Boaler.

The startup’s primary customers are businesses that distribute goods to grocery and retail outlets. In Zimbabwe, the co-founders explain, formal retailers rely upon sales representatives and merchandisers – employed directly by the distribution company – to keep shelves stocked and sales orders flowing.

FigJam allows these sales reps and merchandisers to do their jobs in a digital environment, with benefits to both the distribution or supply company, but also the retailer, as the system ensures more efficient flow of goods onto shelves than legacy paper-based ordering.

“My favourite example of what FigJam can do for your business comes from a large distributor in Zimbabwe. We worked with them for 18 months before finally onboarding them. They have since seen their average timeframe from order to delivery reduce by 50 per cent, and are seeing revenues increase to the tune of thousands of dollars per month,” Taylor says.

The app is currently being used in the field by 1,000 people; and has been used to process just over 60,000 orders, to a total value in excess of US$30 million.

On the back of this strong uptake, the startup is in the process of expanding to new markets – Tanzania and Zambia first.

In fact, the co-founders are in Lusaka driving new business as you read.

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