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Digitizing Africa’s Small and Midsize Businesses

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Micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) make up 90% of businesses in Africa and many of them can be found in Africa’s large, offline marketplaces. Nigeria’s Alaba International Market — the largest electronic market in the country — houses 10,000 merchants alone. To ensure these businesses don’t get left behind and to accelerate digitization on the continent, startups, corporations, and policymakers should encourage digital solutions for consumers and business owners in these marketplaces.  Mobile phone transactions can help create a record of offline payments and informal savings systems, as well as help with inventory management and fulfillment systems. Studying the behavior of these customers and the MSMEs that serve them can make it possible to bridge the gaps that are keeping many offline.

Alaba International Market, the largest electronics market in Nigeria, is an age-old brick-and-mortar operation,…

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