Kenyan exporters are seeing increased sales and clients thanks to an online platform connecting global buyers and sellers in the fresh produce markets, which is also giving instant feedback on where demand is strongest.
Called tacler, an acronym for 'trade and communications linker' which also denotes a sense of tackling, which is what business people do when they tackle the challenge of building businesses, the platform is based in the Netherlands but serves over 10,000 exporters and buyers from across the globe spanning companies, individuals and supermarkets.
An exporter builds his portfolio on the platform, explaining who they are, what they sell and the consistency of their supplies. They are also required to place on their portfolio all exporting requirements like an export license. Once the staff at tacler verify the information, they then upload the portfolio allowing the seller to be identified by the buyer.
Wilberforce Ngugi, an exporter who has used the platform for the last six months after learning about it through LinkedIn, confirms the immense benefits of the system. What started as a small venture, with its share of difficulties in tracing buyers and a consistent market, has now achieved a steady market, with Wilberforce now exporting between 5 and 20 tonnes of his various fresh produces, and increasing his client base from 3 to 8, with talks underway with many others.
“The beauty of this online platform is that you also monitor where demand is and for which produces and that is just by a click of a button. Before it would take you months to know which produces are in demand or which the buyers are losing interest in. This now gives you a strategy on where to focus your attention on,” said Wilberforce, who has now increased his product variety from just 5 before to ten.
He traditionally focused on french beans and strawberries for export, but a growing demand for nuts, capsicum, and snow peas from the online clients has seen him refocus his attention.
“And although I dont grow them, I at least make sure that I hunt for the farmers who have them, and in time, because in this market where we are all competing, time is of essence, you dissapoint a client once, you lose them forever to your clients."
Tacler members also argue that the fact that only interested parties join the platform cuts the time one will use in navigating and looking for specific buyers.
“The business setting of tacler differs from social media in that tacler is like a community of those of us in the fruits and vegetables business. Only those interested will be there. I learn more about fresh fruits and vegetables markets, and I can take indicators on the business in all kinds of countries from over the world. I really appreciate all people contributing to this idea, and I believe this initiative will have a great place in the agriculture business all over the world,” said Youssif Elsayed, CEO of Egyptian company Eshraka Green For Export & Import and an active user of tacler.
Written by Bob Koigi for African Laughter
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