Nuzo.co, a Kenyan Shop-to-Earn eCommerce marketplace for small and medium-sized businesses recently hosted its launch event in Nairobi, Kenya.
Nuzo users earn Nuzo Coins when they buy and sell online and these Coins increase in value as the marketplace grows. Nuzo Coins are powered by the mobile-first, carbon-negative Celo blockchain and can be redeemed for buy goods, airtime, and bill pay. After launching in June, Nuzo already has 40,000 users and is growing rapidly.
Africa has the fastest-growing number of internet users of any region and 60% of its population is below the age of 25; making the region both the world’s youngest and most rapidly-digitizing. Africa is also home to countries with some of the highest adoption rates of cryptocurrency like Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya – where an estimated 4.8 million people own cryptocurrency. And Africans’ adoption of crypto is not slowing down; in 2021, usage grew by an astonishing 1,200%.
However, compared to other regions, Africa still lags behind in eCommerce adoption with less than 2% of retail transactions happening online vs. 19% globally. Early players like Jumia, Konga and Amazon have only just begun to capture a small fraction of Africa’s $2 trillion in annual retail spend, with the majority of retail sales still occurring offline.
Nuzo believes that for eCommerce to succeed in Africa, the community has to participate in the economic ownership and governance of the platform – something that is only recently possible due to the emergence of Web3 technologies like blockchain tokens.
Community Ownership Will Drive eCommerce Growth in Africa
“We believe that including the community in ownership and governance of digital platforms is the best way to unlock the true potential of digital commerce in Africa.” says Nuzo Founder Charles Nichols, who previously Co-Founded another African startup, SunCulture which has raised nearly $50 million.
“We have seen first hand at Nuzo that by including our community in ownership, we have been able to build a popular marketplace that is growing very rapidly. The high engagement of the Nuzo Community enables us to create new marketing opportunities for businesses that can’t be found anywhere else,” he continued.
Unlike big-name online companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter, Web3 companies like Nuzo use blockchain tokens to empower community ownership. This maps well to familiar concepts of community finance prevalent in Africa like Savings and Credit Cooperative Organizations (SACCOs) and Chamas, informal cooperative societies used to pool and invest savings amongst local communities.
Nuzo Coins appreciate in value as transaction volumes grow; this offers a totally new financial benefit to users for buying and selling online. Users can also redeem Nuzo Coins for goods and services, mobile airtime, bill pay, swap them for other crypto tokens or send money to friends, family and businesses with 90% lower fees compared to mobile money services.
Godwin, a customer and member of the Nuzo community, believes strongly in this mission: “Online transactions are increasing and are being embraced by enterprises and clients. In the Kenyan context, the leading mobile network operators Safaricom and Airtel have laid formidable internet infrastructure that is promising for eCommerce companies. Nuzo, being the latest entrant, is influencing the scope for eCommerce by engaging at the grassroots-level and targeting the common Kenyan with incentives of Nuzo Coins.”
Flavia Mbuki, another member of the Nuzo community who attended the recent Nuzo Launch Event in Nairobi had this to say: “Besides economic value gained from using the Nuzo platform, customers and community members are involved in governance e.g. how commissions are charged. This translates to trust between Nuzo and the community.”
The Nuzo use case represents a huge opportunity for Africa to unlock the true potential of eCommerce. We are at the beginning of a new era where Africa’s merchants can create global brands through blockchain technology unlocked by the Nuzo platform. This will bring an unprecedented level of trust between entrepreneurs and customers, creating opportunities for both small businesses as well as larger corporations while bringing prosperity to all Africans.