Over the last 10 years one of the few constants has been the growth of technology and the impact it has had in, not just our personal lives but also, our professional lives. One would be hard-pressed to remember that at the very beginning of the last decade social media was barely as pervasive as it is today. Social media was at the time just becoming a mainstay in many people’s lives across Europe and the United States, and yet to become as big on the African continent. Fast forward to the year 2020 and we have the privilege of being able to look back and trace the growth experienced by social media platforms. Social media has grown in leaps and bounds connecting people across the world from one continent to the other, reuniting friends and family and opening up many to worlds unknown to them prior.
However, the biggest impact that has been experienced may be the growth of social media as a viable business platform. Gone are the days when social media was simply just to keep up with your favourite celebrities or message your friends, it has now become a bustling marketplace where businesses can not only grow but also start with the simplest of ease.
Today, in Kenya, many businesses have used platforms such as Instagram to drive them towards success. This has been aided by the swift uptake of technology by most of the population – supported by the fact that it is largely youthful, as well as a willingness to take up the entrepreneurial mantle and start sustainable businesses. Nearly all established businesses prior to the age of social media have accepted the value of being present on social media and have opened pages across all the platforms – hence its conduciveness as a marketplace. Many businesses in Kenya today have begun on platforms like Instagram, whilst some even operate exclusively on the platform.
One such business that is slowly growing through the use of the platform is Keyara Organics, a platform owned and run by Kenyan media maven Terryanne Chebet. Her business was inspired by the need for a product that could help her deal with her daughter’s skin condition, eczema. She looked among the existing businesses and was unable to find a suitable product that met her needs. This inspired her to develop the solution on her own and come up with a range of products that filled the gap that she had stumbled upon. Her business is therefore one born of necessity.
“When my oldest daughter was young, I was looking for some suitable products to use for her skin that would not aggravate her condition. That, for me, meant skincare products that were organic and made from natural products. However, as I conducted my search, I was unable to find the kind of products I was looking for – at least locally,” says Chebet. She further adds, “That inspired me to take up the mantle and begin developing the products myself. It is only later that I began to see it as a business opportunity”.
Social media has simply acted as a catalyst for the adoption of online platforms for making sales. It is now becoming the general consumer behaviour to peruse a business’ offering online and make your order without visiting a physical shop. Many small businesses today have experienced a spike in sales from their online platforms. “About 90% of our sales today come from orders made online. There are very few customers who still insist on physically coming to a shop, especially for those of us in the beauty industry where our products don’t require someone to try them before making the purchase,” says Chebet.
It isn’t just social media that has helped businesses go digital in Kenya but also payment platforms such as Visa. To support a business’s ability to operate without having a physical premise has also meant that payments must follow suit. With the evolution of technology in the payments sector, such as the addition of chip and pin cards as well as contactless cards, more and more customers are looking to make payments using their debit cards. That is supported by three key aspects – ease-of-use, security and no surcharge. The relevance of digital payments has also been boosted by the Covid-19 pandemic that started in March 2020. To avoid the spread of the disease and flatten the curve, many customers are shying away from making cash payments. These trends have forced businesses to adopt digital payment platforms such as Visa to ensure that they continue to grow their customer base as well as their business.
Once a business is on-boarded onto the Visa platform, they are provided with a point-of-sale (POS) machine that facilitates the process of card payments. They also connected with a financial partner who will execute the payments via their system. Currently, as part of Visa’s Where You Shop Matters campaign, merchants who sign up on the Visa Small Business Hub turn the chance to win USD 200 worth of advertising, if they are among the first 100 to sign up.
“Our local communities thrive when small businesses are successful. Now more than ever small businesses need all the support that we can offer to promote sustainable growth. The global economy won’t bounce back until small businesses bounce back. At Visa, we are proud to support merchants and recognize that many small businesses have been most adversely affected by the pandemic. From eCommerce to security, our “Where You Shop Matters” initiative aims to help support them and champion the local small businesses that serve as the backbone of our communities” said Visa’s General Manager for East Africa, Corine Mbiaketcha. The growth of social media and the digitisation of payments have therefore played a key role in the evolution of the beauty industry in Kenya. Players in the beauty industry must therefore embrace digitisation so as to continue experiencing the benefits and growing their businesses to maximise their potential.