Online shopping has become more accessible to African citizens, thanks to major strides made by internet operators on the continent. But while online shopping has been booming, most Nigerians still struggle to purchase goods from the US and the UK – until now.
Chris Folayan, an enterprising software developer, has found a way to tap into the purchasing power of Nigeria’s rapidly growing middle class. Folayan has developed a unique, proprietary shopping platform called MallforAfrica (MFA) that enables retailers from the United States and United Kingdom to securely sell clothing and other consumer products to millions of shoppers in Nigeria, as well as Nigerians living abroad who want to ship items home to their families in Africa.
Major online shopping sites including Macy’s and Bloomingdales have already come on board, as MallforAfrica ships several tons of merchandise to oil-rich Nigeria every month. Using an e-commerce platform that includes prepaid MallforAfrica WebCards, MallforAfrica guarantees 100% of its transactions and handles all shipping, currency conversion and duties for both parties.
“There is a significant population in Nigeria, and in many other African countries, who can afford and want to purchase Western products. For many years, security issues and logistics made this difficult or even impossible. But now we are able to use digital technology to offer Africa the access it has wanted, while guaranteeing retailers that their transactions will be secure and delivered safely,” MallForAfrica Founder and CEO Chris Folayan explained.
MallforAfrica uses free membership through the website – www.mallforafrica.com – that gives shoppers access to millions of items. Consumers purchase MFA WebCards and load them with cash, and then use these cards to purchase goods online.
Through MallforAfrica, the purchases are first shipped to a USA warehouse facility, where they are inspected to be sure they are correct and undamaged items, since returns are not permitted. Then they are air-freighted to Nigeria, where they are delivered either to one of the many MallforAfrica pickup sites or directly to the purchaser’s door.
Operations in Nigeria are overseen by Tope Folayan, Chris’ brother, who has a Stanford engineering degree and an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. Together, the Folayan brothers have built MallforAfrica into one of the leading e-commerce sites on the African continent.
“MallforAfrica enables Western retailers to expand their brands into a vital and growing African economy. While retaining their identities and brands, these retailers can reach out to a highly receptive consumer base in a transaction that is guaranteed for both seller and buyer,” Folayan concluded.