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A Ghanaian-Indian collaboration has given birth to a new online business venture, Africakart.com. The two young men who teamed up to set up the business say they are very determined to build the company into a big brand.
The Ghanaian, 37-year-old Theodore Lawson and the Indian, 26-year-old Rahul Kalra, say they are blazing the trail that most people their age would only dream of.
They are not daunted because they are focused on building a business for themselves in this age that entrepreneurship has become the buzzword.
The two young entrepreneurs believe that Africakart.com will become Africa’s biggest and most preferred Online place for smart family shopping with wings spread across the entire continent by 2025.
This is because they see the online retail environment catching on fast with the Ghanaian population and other parts of Africa. A proof of this is the emergence of online malls where people are able to shop for goods and services.
With the gradual growth in this new sector, there exist many opportunities for businesses to position themselves to serve the ever growing online population here in Ghana and, by extension, the entire continent.
Kalra says there is still the need for great value creation as organisations and institutions engage in the online retail business.
“This is where Africakart comes in with the aim of providing lasting value for stakeholders: made up of vendors, intermediaries such as payment gateways, shipping agencies and of course the target consumers.”
Both entrepreneurs have a strong background in e-commerce which is going to help them grow the business. Lawson started off his career in customer service and later went into IT business development, business copywriting for banks and telecommunications companies, among others. Kalra, on the other hand, had built a career in e-commerce and hotel management and customer service in France and India.
They believe the time has come to venture into e-commerce with an online trading company and that is why they have come up with Africakart.com.
Kalra had his college education in India and then proceeded to France to further his education with the dream of venturing into a career in hotel management. This has turned him into a culinary expert with a broad knowledge in the preparation of continental dishes.
After his education in France, however, he made his way to Ghana. His first attempt into business on his arrival was to venture into the recycling of plastic waste. He went round collecting plastic waste to recycle at his plant at Nsawam.
With the challenges that the manufacturing sector faced in the last few years, he put a hold on his recycling career. Kalra then joined his father’s construction firm, ACEC, as the director of logistics.
Finally, he decided to break into his own business and that was the decision that brought about the birth of the online retail space with Africakart.com.
Lawson said his decision to venture into e-commerce business was fuelled by his visit to London a while ago.
“Although my reason for going to London was to pursue further education in biomedicine, I found a new interest which was the new way of doing business via electronic means,” said Lawson.
Consequently, he started professional courses in IT Project Management with key interest in digital solutions while doing a full-time job with UK retail giant, Sainsbury’s. Lawson said that was where he had the first-hand experience of an organised electronic approach to supply chain operations.
“While at it, other forms of electronic businesses that fascinated me were the gradual introduction of e-banking and the growing public acceptance of online shopping,” he stated and added that “it was difficult making this switch, as I had my mind set on becoming a great biomedical scientist in the future.”
Upon second thought, he decided to take an entrepreneurial approach towards his new found interest. Back in Ghana, Lawson took his first job as a customer service associate in one of the big telecommunication companies. During this time, he also founded his own company with the brand name E-commerce (GH).
“Our initial aim was to help educate the Ghanaian public in this revolutionary means of doing business. And in partnership with Business and Financial Times, this has been successful since 2011. We have educated both industry and customers in strategies and best practices in e-commerce business ecosystem,” Lawson said.
Lawson said the passion to see electronic business also do well here in Ghana and for that matter, Africa led him into various ventures that were all geared towards creating better value within the electronic ecosystem.
He said he had gained experience as an e-commerce consultant, managing projects in the banking, insurance, telecoms industries and believed that he had a very good understanding of electronic business and wants to use this experience to make Africakart.com a business to be talked about.
Lawson added that Africakart.com was positioning itself to offer the best online retail solution here in Africa. This is becoming possible with a great partnership support from Asia, specifically India.
“We have huge Financial Investment from Kuber Investment (an extension of an India Business) and IT support from Connecting Dots,” he explained.
Africakart.com is an online retail start-up which was registered in Ghana in 2016. “The initiative, however, started late 2015 with support from some well wishers. We all squeezed ourselves into a borrowed conference room where we operated from,” he added.
“Today, we are growing in strength and experience and poised to do more,” Lawson said, adding that already, they had made some breakthroughs to create brand awareness for Africakart.com.
He said the company planned to take advantage of the growing online market in Ghana and Africa as a whole to offer better value for vendors and consumers.
Kalra plans for Africakart.com is to make it a brand that will become well known in the West African region by 2025.
“I am really convinced that e-commerce is the future and I believe that Africakart.com has what it takes to become the brand that would bring e-commerce to homes and offices,” he noted.