Startups (Image credit: entrepreneur.com)
Ever since we entered the electronic era it has become increasingly part of the global business culture to search for products and services online and make transactions. It’s therefore crucial for any business looking to thrive that a virtual version of the company, particularly for new and small businesses, is accessible on the web.
Establishing an online presence for your business means that your company has 24/7 visibility. It’s also the most innovative way of building your brand, engaging with your existing clients or potential customers, and creating networking opportunities. In addition, being online extends your business’ reach beyond your physical geographical location and allows you to access markets you may not have been able to otherwise.
Furthermore, you can cost-effectively promote your offerings beyond borders and create a demand for your products or services in previously inaccessible markets, giving your business unlimited growth potential.
The importance of establishing your business on the internet
The internet democratises commerce due to its anti-monopoly nature which gives startups or small businesses the opportunity to create far-reaching impressions and the chance to compete with larger and more resourced corporations on an even playing field. However, to gain competitive advantage online is not a matter of simply just creating a generic web page in hopes that customers will come flocking because if that’s the assumption then you’re unfortunately mistaken.
The Digital Economy Survival Toolkit is a book that highlights why being online is important for startups and small businesses. It gives insight into why any business should invest in having an online presence. It also covers the key elements that make a website effective and how to successfully launch a new product and fund a startup.
Knowing what it takes to be successful business on digital platforms is important and every startups should learn why strategic networking is truly the nexus between entrepreneurs and success. In today’s world of remote working, knowing how to use virtual staffing to better your business has become vital. Communicating with customers via webinars and understanding the importance of branding your webinars is also key to successfully launching a profitable online business.
In terms of growing reach and traffic, entrepreneurs need tools that enable them to ensure their businesses have competitive SEO rankings because without brand visibility there’s no way to drive large volumes of traffic to a website. Other crucial aspects that give online entrepreneurs the edge include knowing how to combine email and social media to maximize the impact of marketing campaigns.
So before you introduce your company to the world of internet users, which according to Internet World Stats is roughly just under half of the total global population and set to significantly increase over the coming years, you need to have a clear strategy outlining your objectives as far as what it is you hope to achieve by establishing your company’s presence online.
Setting up your digital real estate
Having a basic web penetration strategy allows you to have an idea of what to expect and to estimate the rate of return for the resources you will invest in setting up your online presence. Most small businesses and startups do not always have access to large budgets which can be allocated to this however, it should be encouraging to know that the prices for building a decent website are fairly reasonable depending on the scope and you can get started by simply:
- Picking a unique domain name and selecting a hosting service package – you can get free web hosts and portfolio sites online but it’s best to have your own domain name which you can personalise for your business.
- Finding a design that best fits your brand – with almost an unlimited number of website designs available, you want to find one that gives your users the best experience and reflects your aesthetic.
Key elements that make a website effective
There are several actions you would need to take in order to give your startup the edge it needs to successfully compete in an extremely competitive world. A good website should incorporate some, if not all, the elements listed below:
Every website should clearly communicate your business offering to potential customers from the start. It is therefore important to have simple but impactful headlines. Your headlines and subheadings should describe what your business does in a straightforward manner. Remember, first impressions are everything and if your content is not engaging from the get-go customers will most likely bounce off your site.
Comprehensible value propositions
Once you have briefly outlined what your business offers, the next step is to show your audiences why what you do matters. Here you should focus on showing the benefits or advantages of your products or services by explaining the main features.
Since the internet is inundated with sites promising consumers all kinds of benefits, it is crucial that you show why customers should choose your products or services over the competition by proving how those who have already chosen your business have benefited. This is also an opportunity to gain the trust of any potential customers.
Resources and content
Customers tend to initially visit websites with the intentions to find out more information and not necessarily to make immediate purchases, which is why most startups or businesses are enhancing their offerings by providing potential customers valuable content relevant to their products and services.
Ultimately, the purpose of your website is to convert visitors into customers. To do this effectively, it is imperative that you include a call-to-action on your site. For maximum impact you can have one at the top of the webpage and another at the bottom. Good call-to-actions are designed to inspire an immediate response from your audiences with the most popular ones being “call now” or “visit our store today”. You can also use call-to-actions to generate sales leads by including a “find out more” option where website visitors would be prompted to submit some basic personal information such as email addresses in order to access more comprehensive content.
Optimising your website
Creating a compelling website which functions effectively is the next step towards cementing your company’s presence online. In order to achieve this you need to ensure that your newly created website is optimised. This allows your webpages to be easily discoverable in search engines and rank higher in search results, making it easier for potential customers to find you. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) involves adding valuable content to your site and using keywords to drive organic traffic to your website.
To make your website search engine friendly and for best performance, there are several areas you could focus on including:
These are essentially topical words or phrases that are used for emphasis. They are also words used by search engines to find relevant pages on the web. Startups or businesses should aim to create content around topics pertaining to their business offering which can help them rank higher in search results so that people looking for information related to those keywords have a greater chance of landing on their webpages. Your choice of keywords should help visitors and potential customers understand the purpose of your page.
For your website to gain prominent visibility online you have to create content that is well-written and error free. Producing great content not only helps your website rank higher in search results but also keeps your audiences engaged and establishes you as an authority in your desired sphere of influence on the internet. Above all, make sure you create quality content that gives readers value.
With more people accessing web content via mobile devices in comparison with desktop computers, it is crucial that you use a responsive or mobile optimised design for your website. Search engines such as Google also recommend responsive design since it makes it much more convenient for visitors to have a single URL. Setting up your website in this way helps web pages load faster because your website will not have to be redirected to another page for a mobile device.
The secret to success for small businesses and startups
Now that you know why it’s important to set up a presence for your business on the internet and understand the importance of online participation, as well as what it takes to have a functional website, you can rest assured that you’re not lagging behind the competition.
The secret to succeeding in the digital era rests simply on knowing how to utilize the web to your company’s advantage. What’s great is that the internet acts as a great resource for finding techniques to enhance your business and because the developments on how best to thrive online are ever evolving, you too have a fair chance of boosting your business prospects and no one can claim to have the upper hand as long as you stay updated on the developments.
For a comprehensive list of descriptive links to free resources, tools, platforms and apps that you need to set up an income generating business on the internet also check out The Digital Entrepreneur Manual.
Author: Heath Muchena
ILLA, an African asset-light FMCG Logistics Company Raises $2M Investment Round
ILLA Team (Image: Supplied)
Cairo-based FMCG Logistics company ILLA secures a $2M investment round to boost its growth in the market and diversify its offering to the FMCG value chain. The round was co-led by Watheeq Financial Services and Golden Palm Investments. The round saw participation from Loftyinc Capital Management, Kepple Africa Fund, Cubit Ventures, AUC Angels, Oqal Angel Network and FLat6Labs Cairo doubling down on its investment in ILLA for the third time
Founded in 2019 by Mahmoud Elzomor, Alaa Jarkas, Ahmed Sakr, and Hossam Saraya, and shortly joined by a well versed management team with Mohamed Emera as Director of Growth, Mohamed Kamal as CFO, and Khaled Elzomor as Commercial Director ILLA aims to optimize post-production supply chain activities for FMCG brands, starting with middle-mile delivery services, being the most fragmented part of the value chain.
By focusing exclusively on the FMCG market, ILLA was able to capture the business and trust of over 65 clients in its portfolio, with household names to the likes of Coca-Cola, P&G, Danone, Nestle, Juhayna, and Pepsico.
Since 2019, ILLA has been delivering on its core promise of moving goods with efficiency on behalf of FMCG brands, spanning over 5,000,000 KM and completing over 250,000
transactions, across 27 governorates in Egypt leveraging its tech platform to power delivery
Before ILLA, FMCG brands had to rely on a variety of owned and outsourced assets to manage their delivery operations, and that adds to the pain of a fragmented logistics cycle, which gave way to the value offering of ILLA to those brands; a streamlined value chain with visibility, control and growth potential for each individual brand, with ILLA acting as an asset-light logistics company, leveraging its tech platform and operational intelligence to deliver an unparalleled experience to FMCG brands.
“ILLA will use the funds to fuel its expansion and growth in Egypt and disrupt the traditional route to-market for FMCG companies and SMEs, while building more around its tech platform to deliver more value to its clients and drivers alike”, says Mahmoud ElZomor, Co-Founder and CEO of ILLA
“Mahmoud and the team are tailor-made for ILLA, bringing decades of diversified experience to help drive efficiency into the $15 trillion global FMCG market. With the onset of covid, the global supply chain management industry is suitable for modernization, and ILLA is uniquely positioned as an end-to-end execution platform. In addition, ILLA’s smart logistics solutions also play a crucial role in providing a full stack of operational solutions that will disrupt the sector, and will change the behavior for all stakeholders within the FMCG market,” said Khaled Zaidan of Watheeq Financial Services.
“Middle-mile logistics is one of the most underinvested segments of the global supply chain market. ILLA has identified this massive opportunity in MENA and is offering a full-stack B2B supply chain management platform enabling FMCG brands to reach retailers directly at the lowest cost per case. Mahmoud and team are utilizing the trucking logistics shared economy and tech automation to innovate within a large and fast-growing market.” – AJ Okereke, Partner, Golden Palm
Africa’s CEOs to empower youth for the digital age at the All4Youth Regional Alliance flagship event
All4Youth Regional Alliance Senior leaders (Image: All4Youth SSA)
We aim to support 1 million young people to find work and plan their transition to the digital economy between now and 2022 through a flagship event of All4Youth Regional Alliance, “CEO & Youth Connect”. A collaborative intervention led by various multinational companies dedicated to reduce youth unemployment across Sub-Saharan Africa. Senior leaders from the alliance will meet on November 8, 2021, to discuss skills of the future required in their organizations as well as share programs, training, and initiatives designed to prepare youth for the digital era.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created an economic crisis, forcing tens of millions of people out of work. As economies continue with the reopening journey, some jobs may not come back, yet we continue to see a rise in the number of youth joining the job market. “We have therefore put the best of our resources to support this recovery, including using data to understand the most in-demand roles, supporting with skilling and reskilling needs for job seekers and job creators. Partnerships such as this will play a critical role and will support us to scale us to more youth and increase the impact across the African continent” noted Ghada Khalifa, Director for Microsoft Philanthropies for Middle East and Africa.
Bruno Olierhoek, Chairman and Managing Director at Nestlé East and Southern Africa Region emphasized the importance of senior leaders taking keen interests in the development and ultimate successes of the youth. “We are driven by our inspiring purpose that is so relevant in our East and Southern Africa Region (ESAR) and we want to do good by addressing societal challenges such as climate change, sustainability and youth unemployment. To help contribute to these major challenges, we realize the need to work in an ecosystem which is entrenched around long-term thinking, with immediate actions. Through our involvement in different programmes supporting the youth in Employment & Employability, Entrepreneurship and Agri-preneurship we are committed to continuously define projects that are fully integrated in our value chain for them to be viable over the long term and be able to make a real meaningful impact for the community and us.”
“The youth of today are the builders and leaders of tomorrow. As Adcorp we know that enabling agility, focus and skill in the youth of today is the key to unlocking their potential for tomorrow ‘’ highlighted Dr John Wentzel, Chief Executive Officer, Adcorp Group.
In the last two years, alliance partners have reached over 150,000 young people, empowered over 3000 young people through employability and mentorship programmes. Giving high potential young talent access to a network of high performing industry professionals that accelerate opportunities, career and personal development goals.
We encourage young people to register for the upcoming event to click here and learn more about in-demand skills, insights to future of work and opportunities alliance partners have available for youth.
Fawry Invest in Sudanese Classifieds and Marketplace Platform alsoug, Marking First Overseas Venture
Fawry CEO Eng. Ashraf Sabry (Image: Supplied)
Fawry establishes strategic partnership with Sudanese consumer platform with an eye to scaling up technology platform beyond Egypt.
Fawry (the “Company”, FWRY.CA on the Egyptian Exchange), Egypt’s leading provider of e- payments solutions and digital banking services, announced today that it has finalized an investment in alsoug.com, Sudan’s largest online classifieds platform and marketplace, to help build out alsoug’s new fintech platform, Cashi. Fawry has acquired a strategic minority stake in the alsoug.com/Cashi holding company, marking the Company’s first venture capital investment outside of its Egyptian home market. The investment comes as part of Sudan’s first announced venture capital funding round.
Fawry played a leading role in ensuring the success of the USD 5m round, with the Company’s presence catalyzing involvement from other strategic Western VC players. As a strategic investor in alsoug, Fawry intends to leverage its long track record with white label technology solutions to help the platform expand in scale, enhancing the platform’s merchant acquisition operation, refining its go-to-market approach, and providing valuable insights that inform high-level strategy across all segments of the business.
Founded in 2016 by a world-class team of technology entrepreneurs, alsoug is now Sudan’s leading consumer internet platform and its largest digital marketplace. Alsoug is one of Sudan’s most downloaded apps on the Google Play app store with two million downloads and is a platform where sellers can list everything from real estate and cars to services and commodities.
Despite the political and economic headwinds experienced by Sudan as it goes through a transformative political transition, the platform has grown rapidly since 2016, reflecting alsoug’s highly skilled team of in-house developers, comprehensive coverage by its on-the-ground teams, as well as Sudan’s promising economic fundamentals. Moving forward, and building on the strategic partnership with Fawry, alsoug will significantly expand its service offering by building a new payments network capable of serving customers across Sudan, one of the largest countries on the African continent.
“We’re delighted to be kicking off our partnership with alsoug, one of Sudan’s most exciting prospects and a Sudanese leader in tech innovation. This is our first investment foray outside of Egypt in our thirteen years of operation, and we’re confident that our story with alsoug and Cashi will be a special one. Fawry’s investment in alsoug delivers on our plans to venture into underserved international markets by leveraging our technology and teaming up with strong local players. This investment will provide us the opportunity to strategically expand our footprint into Africa and transfer the experience we’ve gained in the dynamic Egyptian market to neighboring Sudan, an economy with major potential across several sectors and with a significant pool of entrepreneurial talent. Meanwhile, Fawry’s strategic partnership with alsoug leaves it ideally placed to help guide the platform’s rollout of a countrywide payments system, a feat which Fawry has already managed through a scalable, robust, and best-in-class technology platform.” said: Fawry CEO Eng. Ashraf Sabry
“This investment marks a significant milestone not just for alsoug, but for the nascent tech space in Sudan as a whole, which has until today been essentially shut out of the global capital markets. I hope this investment is the first of many and that the huge potential of the tech sector in Sudan is fully realized in the coming years. We are looking forward to working with Fawry, and our new strategic shareholders, to continue our expansion from the classifieds and marketplace space into payments. We will build a payments platform that will deliver financial inclusion to all Sudanese.” said Alsoug co-founder and CEO Tarneem (Nina) Saeed