Author: Chepkemboi Mang’ira | Creative Fashion Director of Uber Duka | |Fashion enthusiast: @MissVavavum
Items on Uber Duka are all African inspired- this could be from Ankara prints to the style and color used across various African cultures. We select products that represent the diversity of African culture. These items primarily fall under Accessories, Art, Crafts, Clothing and Footwear. Uber Duka seeks vendors that have creative and unique products that are inspired by the African culture. For a seller to be approved to use the platform, they must adhere to this. Majority of the products are handmade, therefore we physically verify the authenticity of each item uploaded onto the site.
Uber Duka began as a crowd-curated social marketplace where people could discover creative and unique products/items from each other, product creators and stores based on shared interests. Designers, artists, craftsmen and stores could curate catalogues of their creative and unique products to market, advertise and sell to people interested in those products.
Ordinary users could also curate catalogues of their favorite items for later reference, when they are ready to make a purchase or just to share with their friends. Social circles were therefore built based on interests. The vision behind this was if you create and/or offer creative and unique products you shouldn’t have a hard time reaching people interested in those products, and vice versa.
Our main objective in the long run was always to have a sales platform. This was a way to promote discovery of unique creative items from a community of different people. The selling platform allows us to compliment on the discovery, by enabling one to also buy online.
We started as a referral site to get people interested in the product and idea. Uber Duka originally was a referral site to enable users find stores that sold unique products such as tech gadgets, unique jewelry and crafts. Hence the presence of some ‘foreign’ products on the site. It was during this phase that we realized that local creatives especially painters and craftspeople did not have a wide market and we sought to fill this gap. Slowly we began to focus more on locally made items and as of now we give top priority to the local creatives.
As the number of users of the site grew, there was need from the users to have direct and hassle free access to the items by the users. The team behind Uberduka are passionate about these areas and in our individual experience and research we established that these highly creative painters and craftspeople lacked a steady market. Thus the selling platform was established.
“We believe there exists great potential in the local creative economy.”
Some of the challenges we noted with majority of the creatives is they did not have access to larger market which is necessary for their business to thrive. We also noted for the majority of the creatives, their passion was often a side business yet in reality it had the potential to grow into a full time business. We also noted that these creatives did not have the support from potential customers; there was a need to create awareness and appreciation of the vast beauty and creativity that exists locally.
We believe there exists great potential in the local creative economy. There are numerous artists and designers in Kenya, and East Africa at large who can benefit from an online platform that pays attention to their story and the discovery of their products. With a one stop shop, they can reach larger markets both locally and internationally. We also see a great chance to play a major role in promoting locally made items by making them readily available and easy to discover. We take it as both a challenge and opportunity to improve the image and perception of Kenya and Africa by providing a platform that showcases their creativity.
“We want the world to view Africa above all, as the creative and colorful place it truly is.”
We are also looking to work with organizations that have close ties with the community of creatives to ensure that more creatives have access to this platform. We are working on having the largest community of artists, craftsmen/women and designers in Africa. Our ambition once we have a large community from Kenya, is to expand to East Africa to source our creatives before conquering Africa. We want the world to view Africa above all, as the creative and colorful place it truly is.
In addition to that, we want to have a large community of art, crafts and design enthusiasts both local and international to complement the community of artists, craftspeople and designers. Essentially making it easier for the two communities to find each other, and for the creatives to build relationships with their market, thus create loyal repeat customers.
Find out more about Uber Duka: Website.