Airduka named Kenya’s E-commerce startup of the year

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NAIROBI, Kenya, June 11  – Kenyan online marketplace startup Airduka has been recognised for its role in digitising small businesses in the country when studies have shown that more than half of Kenyan consumers have been shopping online.

Airduka emerged the overall winner of E-Commerce Startup of the year in this year’s annual Kenya E-Commerce Summit and Awards that was sponsored by Finserve Africa.

The company had been nominated alongside more than 200 companies in 30 different categories.

The startup was recognised for connecting Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to local buyers.

Commenting on the award, the firm’s CEO A’Maalik Varvany said the award recognises its ongoing efforts to help take more small business owners into the online space.

“Airduka helps small businesses reach more people online. The platform is welcome to goods and services sellers. The platform has all manner of sellers; from plumbers who can fix damaged pipes to dealers selling high-end electronics,” Varvany said.

“Many business owners have unique and useful solutions, but no one knows. Some are in remote places that buyers would never reach if it were not for the online space,” Varvany said.

Airduka was founded in 2021 by serial entrepreneur Hasnain Noorani to give businesses online visibility.

The platform has several features, including an e-catalogue that enables sellers to showcase all their products online.

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“The e-catalogue connects sellers and buyers on WhatsApp to enable both parties to trade directly. Each product on the catalogue also goes through search engine optimisation to give a seller’s product greater visibility,” the CEO added.

Unlike other online marketplaces, Airduka charges no commission on products sold on the platform.

To sell on the platform, a trader needs only to create a profile on the Airduka website, register their business and select a preferred monthly package that costs as low as KSh 200.

“After that, you only need to follow simple instructions to take your small business online,” he said.

Commenting on the win, Noorani, who is also the founder and Managing Director of Pride Group, which leading hospitality group PrideInn Hotels, Resorts and Camps, said the award is a testament that the firm was filling an urgent gap in the market. Pride Group also comprises PrideDrive, Cake City, PrideFuel, Airduka, Glory tours and safaris and Westlands Banquet Centre.

Quoting a report by MasterCard, Noorani noted that the launch of the company eleven months ago came at the right time when more than half of Kenyan consumers had warmed up to e-commerce.

He added that the company’s launch came at a strategic time, when consumers had fewer opportunities to visit malls owing to everyday commitments but had more time to browse online platforms.

Noorani said that in the post-COVID world, consumers would continue to lean towards e-commerce for their shopping, forcing sellers to go online if they want to remain relevant.

His sentiments matched those of a Mastercard finding released in December 2021 which found that SMEs across the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region are recognising digitisation as essential to staying competitive in a transformed business and economic environment.

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The research, which was conducted in countries including Kenya, observed that 67% of SMEs said that e-commerce would have a positive impact on their business.

A highlight from the study is that 89% of SMEs in Kenya, 81% in West Africa, particularly Nigeria, and 73% in the Ivory Coast believe the same.