Small businesses in Cameroon need an edge on the large, multinational companies that currently dominate the digital space. Export Portal can help – learn how.
The growth of eCommerce in Cameroon has largely benefited consumers who buy electronics and fashion on eBay or Amazon, or use the services of the African giant Jumia. Few spare a thought for the mechanic who needs Toyota parts from Tokyo or the electrician trying to install energy-saving bulbs from Schneider in Germany.
Fashion designers survive on fabric, but getting the one you need many times means getting it from outside Cameroon.
“Fabrics mostly come from [outside] Cameroon,” said award-winning Cameroonian designer Ngwane Liz of Margo’s Mode. “Most things are not found here.”
Some business owners have to travel to secure the goods they need for their clients. For Djam Peric, a businessman in Yaoundé who imports consumer and industrial electronics, a trip to Europe usually means traveling between Italy, France, and Belgium to order goods. After his return to Cameroon time is spent waiting, and arranging to clear them from the port.
“It’s all about cost, there are a few agencies that try to help, but managing customs is still expensive,” said Peric.
Cocoa farmers, coffee traders, and artisans also need a marketplace to display their products, meet new wholesale buyers, and engage a platform that streamlines the process and gives them time to concentrate on what they know best.
If cutting down processing time and customs costs is important for businesses, it is essential for healthcare delivery. Hospital hardware is imported and gets complicated for clinics that make the occasional purchase. Giving health providers alternatives should reduce the cost for their patients.
Export Portal is aiming to be that backbone for many of these Cameroonian businesses. In plain terms, Export Portal is a borderless link between businesses. Small and medium-sized enterprises in Cameroon can now upload a product, set a price, and connect to other companies that want their goods. Export Portal’s proprietary blockchain technology keeps track of payment, documentation, and communication. This ensures all parties involved are spared the headache at customs, and the goods are delivered to the buyer while the seller gets their pay. End of story, repeat.
Chad and the Central African Republic, two landlocked neighbors who rely on Cameroon to get goods across their borders stand to benefit immensely from a system that works to ease business to business transactions. Cameroon’s position as the strongest economic partner in the region will also be bolstered by an increase in trade in an area where customs is a daunting prospect for most businesses.
It remains to be seen how payments will work. Bank transactions are great but not the quickest. Mobile Money has checked the growth of money transfer agencies but still has to be integrated into the wholesale business. If these small issues are solved, everyone will get their transactions across the line faster than they have ever imagined. Few would stop to wonder how Export Portal’s Blockchain technology puts everything into place.