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With their innovative use of artificial intelligence and dedicated field agents, African start-up Lengo AI is ushering in a new era of reliable data collection, especially focusing on the corner shops that serve as the backbone of countless communities across Africa.
Lengo AI CTO Ismaïla Seck, PhD, shared the profound impact the Senegal-founded company is making on local corner shops. By harnessing the power of data, Lengo AI empowers shopkeepers in multifaceted ways, illuminating paths to growth and prosperity.
“We can help shopkeepers to identify which products are most popular in their neighbourhood, and which products they should be stocking more of,” Dr Seck explained, highlighting the pivotal role data plays in understanding local market dynamics.
Lengo AI doesn’t stop there; it assists shopkeepers in refining their pricing strategies and optimising inventory management, enabling these businesses to make informed decisions. Moreover, it serves as a bridge, connecting these corner shops with FMCG brands, facilitating negotiations for better deals.
“Lengo AI can provide shopkeepers with data on the best prices the suppliers are charging in their area,” Dr Seck elaborated. This transparency equips shopkeepers with the knowledge needed to negotiate fair terms with their suppliers.
Dr Seck shared a compelling success story, illustrating how Lengo AI transformed a local business owner’s fortunes. “We were able to show him this data, and he was able to lower his prices to be more competitive”, allowing him to align his price to the price of in his neighborhood, Dr Seck recounted, underlining the tangible, positive impact their work is having on individual entrepreneurs.
While their current focus is on Senegal, Lengo AI’s ambitions stretch far beyond. “We want to be able to help shopkeepers all over Africa,” Dr Seck stated emphatically. Their vision encompasses the entirety of the African continent, with the firm belief that their data can be a catalyst for transformative change, not just in businesses but in the lives of the customers they serve.
The challenges they face are significant, with millions of corner shops scattered across Africa. Mapping out these businesses is a daunting task, but Lengo AI navigates this hurdle by ingeniously combining AI with the expertise of dedicated field agents.
“We are using AI to automate some of the tasks involved in mapping out corner shops. We are also using field agents to collect data on corner shops in person,” Dr Seck revealed. This harmonious fusion of human ingenuity and artificial intelligence is the driving force propelling Lengo AI forward.
Yet, their aspirations don’t end with corner shops.
“What will make Lengo success is being able to go outside Senegal efficiently and be able to expand outside the informal retail to other informal sectors,” Dr Seck said. Their sights are set on broader horizons, encompassing sectors such as hardware stores and cosmetic stores, to name a few, recognising the potential for their data-driven approach to spark transformative change across various industries.
Leading this start-up are exceptional individuals, each contributing their unique expertise to shape the foundation of Lengo AI’s success. Max Smith, the CEO, brings a wealth of experience market research throughout Africa.
Roger Xavier Macia, the chief commercial officer, previously held the position of CCO at Jumia in Senegal, showcasing his unparalleled understanding of the local market dynamics.
Additionally, Dr Seck, a revered member of Senegal’s AI community, holds a PhD in machine and deep learning, further enriching the team with his profound knowledge and insights. Together, their combined talents and dedication drive Lengo AI towards new horizons of innovation and impact.
Their collective passion, expertise, and dedication underscore the profound impact Lengo AI is making and will continue to make across Africa. Through their pioneering efforts, they are not just transforming corner shops; they are revolutionising communities, fostering economic growth, and paving the way for a future where data-driven decisions empower every entrepreneur.