A high demand for South African products by people in his native country of DR Congo on perceived quality, was the spark that inspired Mike Bondo to start an online shop dubbed McShop connecting buyers to local and international brands while promoting the fledgling local fashion entrepreneurs. It is a business that has metamorphosed into an online behemoth with eyes now set on expansion to East and Central Africa even as African serial entrepeneurs like Tony Elumeli take note of his venture through the Tony Elumeli Foundation.
Africa Business Communities interviewed Mike Bondo about this startup McShop
Tell us about your company
Mcshop is an online fashion shopping destination focusing on B2C (Business to customer) based in DR Congo and which allows businesses to sell various merchandise online. Our focus is at helping promote local products while also giving space to international brands at the best prices possible.
Where are your offices located?
We are based in Kinshasa, the capital of DR Congo but we also have representation in Johannesburg South Africa.
When was the company founded?
Mcshop the platform was founded in February 2016 by me and my co founder Christian kadiambiko to meet the growing demand for convenience and bringing customers and buyers together in the most plausible way. Technology offered us the best way to do it.
Back in 2015 when I started my studies in Johannesburg, people were asking me to buy things and send back home because they thought the South African quality was way better. After some time I saw the growing appetite for international brands back home. I invested $100 and bought shoes with Christian my friend and later the founder of our business being responsible for delivery back home. We did this for about four months. But tracking the sales, I saw a very huge growth and potential and told Christian that time was ripe for us to put structures, systems and processes in place. That is how McShop was born which means Mike& Christian. We opened a Facebook page so that we could easily manage orders.
In February 2016, we borrowed $ 3000 from friend and families in order to take the project to the next level. We set up a website and employed a team of five people. Moving on the journey was still challenging because people were used to an old system. It was quite an uphill task trying to convince people on the benefits of e- commerce. It has however been rewarding because today we receive on average 6500 visits per month and are recording organic growth as days go by.
What are your company’s Unique Selling Points?
At Mcshop we believe that when the customer buys online it is more than just buying; it is an experience. Our mission therefore has been to move beyond just selling items to becoming a provider of experience. One of the vital features we launched this year and which is giving us a competitive advantage is “commande special “meaning ‘Special order’ in English. This involves customers ensuring we use our networks to get customers what they want in case we happen not to have it in our stock. For example, if a customer can send a picture of the shoes they are interested in and if we don’t have it in our platform we search for it in our network within 24h and get back to the customer with feedback. We see ourselves as the gateway for many people to digital commerce so we have to ensure convenience and build trust which so far we have comfortably done.
How has the market responded to your products/services?
At first it was a tough sell considering majority of the people in DR Congo and elsewhere had not warmed up to the idea of e commerce. It is however heartwarming to note that we are enjoying an impressive uptake of our products via online purchases and people have come to actually tell us that it is more convenient and fast to do business online and they are happy of the platform we have created for them.
Who are your clients?
We predominantly target young people in the 22 to 35 age bracket because this range we believe understand the technology and are passionate about the innovations but as we grow we intend to grow our customer base and target.
What are the ambitions of the company?
We are planning to add two more cities where we can deliver besides Kinshasa. With a population of over 80 million, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the most populated Francophone country and the fourth most-populated nation in Africa. Unfortunately the country consists only of 3 people out 100 that are internet subscribers. The e-commerce landscape in Africa has many challenges particularly in DRC such as the mistrust, lack of good infrastructure and the issue of payment. Majority of customers are still keen on cash on delivery system. The potential is huge as well as the challenges but despite that our goal in 5 years is to be one of the major player of the ecommerce industry in the region of Central and East Africa .
What does your company need to grow and prosper?
We definitely need financing to expand our scope and reach as many customers as possible. We still feel that we can expand to many other countries in East and Central Africa where the potential for e commerce is phenomenal. In order to achieve these goals we are planning to do some fundraising in the course of this year.
What is the latest news from McShop?
This year we were selected among the 1000 entrepreneurs by the Tony elumelu Foundation and currently running for the Anzisha prize 2017. This week I will be in Abidjan Ivory coast with some of the best young entrepreneur of our continent for the Africa startup Tour 2 from the 6th to 9th July.
Interview courtesy African Business Communities