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Kwely launches game-changing ‘Made in Africa’ marketplace
International buyers can now source high-quality, unique, and locally made products from across Africa. This, after Kwely Inc. lifted the veil on a B2B e-marketplace providing African producers and manufacturers with a global window to sell their products at scale.
Starting with “Made in Senegal” products ranging from food, wellbeing, hair and skin care, the platform offers products which have been produced, tested and packaged following international standards such as the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) packaging requirements.
Kwely seeks to redefine the positioning and image of made-in-Africa products, increase their competitiveness on international markets and make global buyers and consumers discover the extensive range of natural and healthy ingredients that Africa has to offer. It also unlocks access to global markets and provides packaging solutions to create a level playing field for small producers venturing into international trade.
The platform was built with cutting-edge proprietary technology and offers unique features that mirror the way businesses and suppliers transact with each other. From lead times, minimum order quantities, purchase orders and quote requests, the platform makes it easier and faster for buyers to place orders and receive their goods wherever they are.
A key feature also includes a full product configurator giving the buyer the opportunity to customize their order all the way to the packaging through a private label option. The first version of the platform is available in English and will soon integrate multi-language support as well as built-in shipping estimation calculation and integrated user-facing payment options.
Kwely founder Birame Sock says, “Today, we celebrate the launch of Kwely, your destination to the best that Africa has to offer. For a long time, Made-in-Africa products have not been given the value they deserve. The talented producers are usually hidden behind larger brands, hindering their ability to build a direct customer base and their own brand identity.
“Through Kwely, we are introducing to the world high-quality products sourced from small and medium-sized companies and we are unveiling rich and rare ingredients as well as the traditional workmanship of our continent. SMEs constitute the backbone of our economies. By connecting them to international buyers, we are fostering an inclusive economic growth but also impacting entire communities.”
Every year, Kwely’s team of experts organize the TEKKI Challenge, an annual competition inviting local suppliers to present their products. The team follows a rigorous selection process to identify promising entrepreneurs which are primarily women working on innovative products that undergo several months of rebranding before being featured on the platform and on global partners’ networks.
The free rebranding phase aims to upgrade their products by providing to local producers the tools, knowledge, coaching and financial support to improve the quality and image of their offerings. It includes a full marketing and distribution strategy, an analysis of the packaging to meet international standards and the delivery of certifications that are compliant with global market requirements.
During the first round of the TEKKI Challenge in 2021, ten companies from the food and cosmetics industry were selected. The second phase recently concluded with 15 new brands which will soon be revealed.
“When I applied for the TEKKI Challenge, my goal was to refresh my brand image and packaging as I was just starting up and only selling my products via social media platforms,” said Maimouna Sow, founder of MyMix SN, a Kwely supplier based in Senegal and focused on ready-to-prepare baking mixes of African traditional pastries.
“Since then, the Kwely team has really helped me work through a number of areas of my business by completely changing my brand, acquiring packaging, selling my products in large grocery chains and hotels as well as helping me secure some funding.
“I am so excited to see the Mixeko products on the shelves of supermarkets in Senegal including the American Food Store and Casino. And this happened in just a few months. My growing team is now focusing on making sure I can meet the demand as we look to expand internationally with Kwely in 2023.”
Kwely has the ambition to expand the TEKKI Challenge to at least three other African countries by the end of 2023 to provide a more diverse range of products. Kwely started distributing the products from the first cohort to a number of local supermarkets, hotels and pharmacies in July 2022. The company is experiencing a rapid growth and is getting ready to venture into other markets such as Europe, the United States, Asia and other African countries.
“As one of the first retailers in Senegal to offer Kwely products, I must say that we are very pleased with our partnership,” said Alioune Ndiaye, owner of the American Food Store in Dakar, Senegal.
“The quality of the products, the packaging and service is a reminder of how important it is for our local suppliers to comply with international standards and invest in their image. We are truly happy to have found in Kwely a partner who gives us access to local products that have nothing to envy from imported products and this reinforces our commitment to developing a larger space for Made in Africa on our shelves.”
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