Maasai Mart: E-Commerce Platform for Local Tourism Products and Services
Linking youth entrepreneurs to tourism business opportunities through data
Tanzania’s tourism industry provides a variety of business opportunities for entrepreneurs in Arusha City, creating jobs for youth-led tour companies and local handicraft vendors. However, the online presence of tour companies and local vendors in Arusha City is limited to a few established businesses that can afford to host websites. The majority of local vendors rely on physical visits from tourists to sell their handicraft products, limiting revenue to local purchases. A study conducted in Arusha revealed that market challenges for tourism products include a lack of customers and access to international markets. If local vendors, especially youth, could gain access to regional and international markets, then they could significantly increase their revenue and grow their businesses.
Photo Credit: Maasai market for local handcrafted tourism products in Arusha
Thinking beyond traditional sales methods, the Maasai Mart team seeks to use emerging technologies to establish an e-commerce platform for tourism products and services. The technology will help local vendors and tour companies to establish an online presence and give youth access to a physical business setup. The main youth audiences targeted by the Maasai Mart team are youths with existing physical business spaces, but who want an online presence to expand their market, and youth who do not have the money to set up a physical business but desire to start an online business.
The Maasai Mart platform enables local vendors and tour companies to:
- create an online profile
- process online product orders
- respond to online service inquiries
- share an online products and services catalog
- send real-time alerts of offers and discounts
- conduct online sales
- track product and service trends
To learn more, visit https://maasaimart.com/
To understand the needs of local vendors in Arusha’s tourist industry, the Maasai Mart team conducted a needs analysis. This analysis included a focus group discussion with local vendors and collected feedback from young men and women aged 21 to 52 in Arusha City. The team used their feedback to analyze the business operations and market challenges for tourism products. The team reached the other target audience – that is, tour guides and customers (local and international) – through online questionnaires.
Based on the results of the needs analysis, the Maasai Mart team drafted preliminary designs and began developing the first prototype of the Maasai Mart platform.
Outcomes and Impact
The primary impacts anticipated from the Maasai Mart e-commerce platform are increased market reach for local vendors in Arusha City and increased youth involvement in the sector. As a secondary benefit, data collected from the platform will be shared with other stakeholders in the youth development sector to help them target their own interventions.
Maasai Mart at International Youth Day 2018 in Arusha, Tanzania
Denis Minja and his team of six are the brain power behind Maasai Mart. They benefited from a $23,060 grant from the Data for Local Impact Innovation Challenge (DLIIC). They also received capacity building and mentorship through DLIIC, which has equipped them to develop their business plan and perfect their technical design and overall innovation.
DLIIC aims to engage, support, and connect Tanzanian innovators, developers, and solution providers to each other and to opportunities to make a difference in people’s lives and generate local impact. To learn more, visit http://www.dliinnovationchallenge.or.tz.