Prior to MallforAfrica, a global e-commerce platform launched in late 2011, most European and American merchants would not ship to Africa. Their concerns ranged from consumers using stolen credit cards to reports of damaged merchandise to navigating customs and much more.
The reluctance stemmed in part from their lack of knowledge of Africa’s economy and experience in doing business there. MallforAfrica (MFA) founder and tech entrepreneur, Chris Folayan, who was raised in Nigeria, explains, “People had a huge misconception about Africa. They thought lions, elephants and giraffes were walking around the streets. They didn’t realize that cities like Lagos and Nairobi had high rise buildings, freeways, a vibrant economy, and are doing big things with technology and other industries.”
In 2015, just four years later, more than 150 premium retailers in the North America and the United Kingdom have partnered with MallforAfrica including Macy’s, Bebe, eBags, Tateossian, and Juicy Couture. Folayan, who resides in North California but travels frequently to his native Nigeria, says they don’t charge a penny to retailers to use the platform because Africans have a right to buy from overseas sites without complications often associated with these transactions.
“We’ve had an incredible amount of success with MallforAfrica,” said Kent Anderson, CEO of Macys.com. “In the short amount of time that Macys.com has been available to Nigerian consumers we’ve done a remarkable number of transactions resulting in five-figure revenues.”
MallforAfrica manages every aspect of the order cycle. Through the MFA platform and app, Africans can purchase whatever they want instantly using a secure payment system and local currency, with guaranteed delivery. Zero fraud liability and zero integration cost are two unique concepts MFA provides merchants. The innovative e-commerce site provides buyers a guaranteed way to shop globally and get items delivered locally.
Items purchased by customers are automatically delivered to MallforAfrica’s large warehouse facilities in the U.S. or U.K. From there, the merchandise is shipped directly to the customer’s home and arrives in a few business days, or they can choose to pick it up from any of MFA’s pickup locations, which resemble UPS stores.
Folayan says retailers should be looking at every possible option. “We’re not messing with their infrastructure, we’ve literally opened the gates for online commerce in Africa, proving Africa is truly open for business.”
Main Photo: Chris Folayan, founder of MallforAfrica. Credit Thomas Patterson via The New York Times
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