The initial phase of COVID-19 in Uganda
Uganda had one of the strictest COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in East Africa, where all the businesses remained closed except those supplying essential services. The first case of Covid-19 was reported on 22 March 2020. To minimize the spread of the virus, the government took fast actions: They imposed restrictions on travel, declared a nationwide curfew in late March which lasted until early June, prohibited social gatherings, and closed all borders for passenger travel. President Museveni also promoted better hygiene through handwashing and social distancing. Schools shut down and employees were asked to work from home- except those supplying essential goods and services.
Impact on economy and rise in poverty level
Although the number of COVID-19 cases increased at a relatively slower pace, the lockdowns and policies in Uganda, in particular, had a huge impact on the regional economy and the livelihoods of people, i.e. small vendors and entrepreneurs. The pandemic slowed any economic activity and the real gross domestic product (GDP) fell from 6.8% in 2019 to 2.9% in 2020 as several trades faced a recession; foreign direct investment inflows also faced a sharp decline due to the stifled oil prices. The pandemic pushed between 1.1 to 3.2 million more people into poverty in addition to the latest pre-pandemic estimate of 8.7 million. The partial closure of industries and businesses hit low and middle-income earners hard and many people had no income at all during the lockdown period.
The emergence of marketplaces
Due to all these restrictions, it was hard for non-essential businesses to survive. The people who were not engaged in any type of essential services or goods supplying lost their jobs and they were unable to fulfill their basic needs of food, shelter, and clothing. During those restrictions deliveries of products became a big opportunity and
marketplaces such as Jumia, Glovo, Konga and Takealot, became significant players in the online market- with Jumia as the largest online marketplace on the continent with 23 million visits per month. The marketplaces transformed the lives of people and the purchasing patterns of the African continent and Uganda in particular – not only through deliveries but by creating employment opportunities as many young people have used this opportunity to establish a (side) hustle.
Digital marketplaces – not a place for everyone!
High-end e-marketplaces seem to be a great opportunity for merchants, however, these online platforms often charge high fees for selling your products through their websites.
As there are many sellers online, the marketplaces are often very crowded and the competition for merchants is often so high that they don’t really serve as a solution for small businesses. Ultimately, they do not serve young people or people with low tech literacy looking for a way to make money.
So what are solutions that actually serve young people and those with low tech literacy? Which product provides sellers or entrepreneurs who are either already having an established business or are looking to set up some side hustle to improve their finances as an alternative?
SokoApp actually does exactly that! With SokoApp, you can easily set up an online shop in just 30 seconds by simply entering your business name, your phone number, and your email address. There are no technical skills required and no fees will be charged. It will be your one-stop solution to manage your product catalog, customers, and orders.
SokoApp enables you to create an online store with a storefront and unlimited products. These products can be shared from your online store to different social media- be it Facebook, Instagram, or WhatsApp. Your SokoApp shop comes in especially handy for managing orders and customers.
It also eases your way of managing your inventory – no matter where you are:
- Adding new products and setting prices
- Updating and managing products on the go
- Controlling stock levels and changing product availability.
- Managing catalogues
- Contacting customers directly from the app
The covid pandemic had far-reaching impacts on the economy and the livelihoods of people across the globe – especially in Uganda, people working on a small scale had to suffer a lot due to the restrictions. To mitigate these hardships, SokoApp attempts to offer a path to recovery from the pandemic by providing small businesses without any technical skills the option to take their business online. It is a small step that can go a long way for small businesses. Its direct impact can be seen when businesses start doing well leading to an improved standard of living and a boost for the economy.