A non-profit that helps people in developing world create their own e-commerce app.

by neutrino_lover. Posted on Sep 10, 2020    3    20


I was talking to a Nigerian who was down on his luck and wanted to start a small business. He was resorting to working for a scam lord to feed his family and his life sounded really tough. He had this dream to sell building supplies, I guess he lives in a developing city where building is on the rise. We brainstormed and came up with an idea. We thought about a delivery service for builders on site that could get their purchases delivered on demand. Kind of like an Uber for building supplies. He already knows some suppliers and even has a few friends that work for builders. We came up with an app that he could post his supplier's normal inventory for sale with a small markup and charge a small delivery fee. He'd then get the order and report to the buyer the estimated delivery time and make the delivery without having to physically handle payment or invoicing.

This got me thinking. I could make an app for people in the developing world to do business with other local people. The app would take a small fee and the profit would go to a foundation to help with small business loans and startup assistance to other people wanting to start a small business in the developing world. The business person would have to get their own resources or make their own products and advertise their own business, find their clientele. There's a few inherit problems I see. These areas are fraught with fraud and scammers, no idea how to keep that off the network. I'd probably have limit to how much business someone could do until they could prove themselves to be trustworthy. Every country would have it's own problems with monetary policy and working with all those financial institutions would be difficult. I could start in one country and open another office in another country that handles all the business for that country.


Comments

onedough 1

We built an app on flutter. Albeit a very cool language (rust) and I love the usage of rxjs streams, it’s too heavy on the resources.

I build my PWAs with angular and i can get the initial load to 17kb.

Flutter would require an install regardless of what you do with web. Also people don’t get push notifications in Nigeria they receive sms texts. So that’s a cost you’ll have to account for.

  neutrino_lover 1

17kb is actually pretty impressive. I'll look into angular.

onedough 1

Angular itself is not the lightest in deployment but with the right caching and resiliency with your assets you can def achieve it with any framework just need to be able to ssr where you can.

  neutrino_lover 1

True. I could try to stick to very few graphical assets as possible and stick just drawing the interface as much as possible. A lean implementation makes the most sense here. Thanks for letting me know, I'll do more research on deployment in areas like Nigeria.

onedough 1

Good luck!

onedough 1

I would look into PWAs. They are designed to work offline and are not a download.

Do most users there have androids?

  neutrino_lover 1

Actually, I'm thinking about developing it with Flutter which the beta web support it could be launched as a PWA and I'd be able to release all 3 versions with one code base.

onedough 1

You definitely can release a monorepo with all 3. Have you done research on how apps are distributed in Nigeria?

  neutrino_lover 1

No, I haven't looked into it at all. Getting initial thoughts here, great place to get some feedback on ideas.

onedough 1

I’m interested in this. What type of platform are you thinking of building on?

Native apps don’t do well in countries where 3g is about all you can get. Apps like Shopify usually are limited to who can connect to them. How do you plan on implementing low latency high quality deliverable app?

Curious..

  neutrino_lover 1

...And it would let the customer know if the store's data is up to date on their device or not. I think the problem will be with payment info, but also possible on 3G, just would take some engineering.

onedough 1

Honestly, look into PWAs. Uber made their progressive web app so that it can work specifically for 2g-3g networks.

If the app is designed well I think you have a great chance.

On that end, my company works with this kind of tech so if you have any questions or want advice feel free to ask.

  neutrino_lover 1

That's one hurdle I hadn't thought of. Might have to wait for Elon to get his satellites up. No, but seriously, that's a good point, but may be solvable. I could make something 3G usable, but not sure about 2G. I could make it so the customer could "subscribe" to the store to know what store's inventory data to keep locally on the device till they get wifi and only send crucial data on 2G or 3G like inventory numbers or replacing new/old inventory. I'd just need a few kilobytes to remove old inventory and update stock numbers. And it could do a background refresh of the data when more bandwidth is available or wifi only.

SuspiciousRutabaga8 1

There is a micro loan society for this

  neutrino_lover 1

That's true too.

JustLookingAroundFor 1

Can’t they just start a shopify account

Also why does this have to be a nonprofit?

Better it was for profit and donated some percentage (or nothing at all)

  neutrino_lover 1

Probably, but does shopify help them with starting up and offer small business loans or target those in need and just need a helping hand?

JustLookingAroundFor 1

No but you could help them start a shopify store and locate loans or provide loans... rather than trying to be a tech company and have tour own platform.

Actually shopify does loans but I doubt they do in Nigeria... Canada and US maybe but you also need to have sales history first

  neutrino_lover 1

Interesting

JustLookingAroundFor 1

Yeah I’d stay away from the tech aspect and focus on the services side... imo. Don’t reinvent the wheel just use shopify/big commerce whoever