Few years ago, Faustine Mgimba never thought that his final year project could turn out to be a successful business idea.
Like many college students, he too had his own expectations after completing his four-year degree in computer science from Dublin Institute of Technology.
“The idea of being employed crossed my mind but then, the response I got from my final year projects made me realize that there was an opportunity to turn it into something big,” explains Faustine.
After graduating in 2014, he decided to work out on his idea, which involved creating a scan application that could help detect and reduce product frauds.
“I wanted to use technology so as to bring solution to product fraud in the market and so I came up with a software and took it to Brela for patent application and thereon I started to commercialise it,” he says.
Through his company Scancode (T) Limited, which is an innovative ICT company evaluated at Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) through incubation at Dar Teknohama Business Incubator (DTBi), he has been working on projects aimed at empower consumer products verification, traceability systems and authentic data accessibility trough mobile phones.
“I am happy that I took the initiative to use what the social networks can offer to make a difference in our community. There are so many opportunities that we as the youth can use to make money online if we choose wisely how to use such networks,” he says.
“One thing that I have noticed is that a lot of people have failed to realise or to identify which network they can use if they want to capitalize on their business. The type of customer you will have or target will depend on the type of network you’re using. So once you have an idea, the nature of customer you wish to have is an important aspect to look at,” he explains.
Faustine also noted that some people particularly youth have failed to meet their targets because some of them have the risk of advertising their business online before it is ready,’ customers don’t like to be kept waiting that’s why it is not wise to advertise business which isn’t ready to be on the market.”
Together with his team of five, they have developed a mobile platform that enables consumers to verify certified products authenticity through scanning Matrix (Electronic Mark), Quick Response (QR) or Barcodes using smartphones which is already adopted by Tanzania Bureau of standard and other manufacturers.
However, such success needs a lot of dedication according to Faustine, “it is unfortunate majority of us youth don’t like to start business in an environment which don’t generate money on the spot, but one thing I have learnt is to believe in what you want to do, one also needs to be creative and participate in various innovation competitions so that they can have opportunity to pitch their ideas because through these competitions, they might be able to get funds to support their businesses,” he says.
“To manage a technology service is not expensive unlike how it is in other business, the cost will be on investing on competent people who can manage our networks.”
An insurer by training who has become a famous barbeque maker through social media, chose to use her social media account to be self employed and made it big.
Restituta Bura, who completed her Bachelor’s degree studies in Insurance and Risk Management at IFM in 2010, was on job hunting mission for years before she finally gave up.
With a dream of landing a well paying job in one of the big insurance companies becoming fruitless and after a trial of several businesses, the idea of starting a food delivery business came to mind and her focus was on customers around the city centre.
Unlike many today, who use social media to engage in unproductive business and for show off, Restituta saw the need to use the power of social media to her advantage.
Using her Instagram account, surprisingly it ended making a big difference in her life as she started to advertise her business.
Her followers, “unlike what she had expected, became attracted by the pictures of food she posted every time she finished preparing the barbeque.
Within a short period, the mother of two has so far employed seven people who assist her with more than 40 orders per day to deliver across the city.
Restituta and Faustine stories give a clear picture on how online business is shaping how we do business in our country. The days when one had to rent a shop or office space to do business are slowly ending.
Today, more and more entrepreneurs particularly, the aspiring entrepreneurs who are mostly the youth have chosen to take up the social networks as their main platform for doing business hence they are able to reach out to thousands of their potential customers.
Julius Shoo, is a social media guru and an IT expert based in Dar es Salaam and according to him there are so many advantages and opportunities that aspiring entrepreneurs can use to grow their business using social media.
He says as the world become more of a global village, it creates an opportunity for businesses to reach a wider audience, “ that can be one of the biggest advantage of doing business online.
For someone who is offering a service or selling products, the social networks can provide an access to a large number of customers who may not know about the products and services they offer,,” explains the expert.
He went further saying one using social network for business can be able to do it from wherever they are so long as they manage to maintain their customers needs in the best way possible.
Despite all the advantages that come along with the online business, however the expert says there are still some challenges that people who wish to use social network in doing business need to consider.
“One needs to bear in mind that there are lots of competitors out there who wants their products also to be known, so the aspiring entrepreneurs will need to spend their time and sometimes money on advertising, so that they can let their potential customers know what they have to offer and convince them to choose their products.”
“How to reach your target audience online is another challenge. Say your target audience is employed people but apparently most of your followers are students can be a problem.
How reliable and fast can you get your products to customers at the right time is also another challenge that many online businesses face. Unless you have the capacity to respond to your online customers efficiently, you will lose them quickly if you don’t act fast,” he advises.
He says if one manages to do everything they can to make their online business work then it can be worthwhile doing business online.