Getting Small Kenyan Businesses Online
Most of you will agree with me when I say that the Internet has created a level playing ground for everyone. Large corporations and small and medium-sized businesses can now compete on the same terms. On a local level though, this is far from being the truth. Most small enterprises believe that going online requires a substantial investment and that only established companies or enterprises that have something to share should go online. Kenyan businesses, however, need to look at the west and see how small and medium-sized businesses are making a success of their online presence and what our local businesses can do to benefit from this medium.
Small local businesses make up the largest revenue streams in Kenya. I am talking about small ‘mama mboga’ stores, kinyozis and cafes. The resources available on the Internet today make it, not only easy to set up small business websites, but also leverage the different platforms to market their products and services. There are free resources for creating your own Facebook store, mobile apps and just about anything offered on a premium. Leveraging online resources is more about knowing what is out there on the Web as opposed to how much you can afford to invest without putting a dent in your pocket.
Recently, Google saw the need for Kenyan businesses to get online and launched the “Getting Kenyan Businesses Online”(GKBO) initiative. Businesses can now be able to set up an attractive website for free and start marketing. The free website builder even allows you to get SMS updates from your online customers right on your mobile phone. Do you see how businesses can use these resources to reach more customers and improve their service and product offerings? In addition to the above resource, Google also launched the Kenyan YouTube version (YouTube.co.ke). The service allows local videos to gain more visibility while offering caching services that make these videos load and stream faster. It has never been easier to set up your online presence and market yourself on the Web.
Unlike the west, traditional media like television and newspapers continue to be the primary channel through which Kenyans gain information. Most businesses prefer to use these traditional channels to advertise since they have more tangible return on investment. This trend is however quickly changing as more people get online. Local businesses need to realize that consumers have options in where they go shopping and who they interact with. What will set you apart from your competitors? Superior customer service. Think about it; how many of your customers would rather have their products (or even services) delivered on their doorstep rather than visit your establishment? I know I would. How many would rather pay a little extra and have you deliver rather than them come to your store? I would say a large number and what is even more amazing is that a website can help you get your business to this level.
How are you or local other business leveraging online resources to reach more customers and improve the quality of their product and service offerings? Share your comments below: