Ugogo: Creating A Platform For Artists
Founded by Lisa Armstrong, Ugogo Africa is a company that aims to provide local artists with a platform where they can sell their goods online without difficulty.
Lisa grew up in Zimbabwe where she watched her grandmother make and sell her crafts to the locals. There were however many difficulties with the trade systems being used and this is what led to the journey towards Ugogo.
The entrepreneurial spirit was something Lisa had from her early years. Since she was 9 years old. She was always eager to experiment and try out new things.
Ugogo was an idea she had a few years back before quitting her global marketing job at ad agency SapientRazorfish. She saw this as a platform where sellers would be able to extend the market for their goods. The problem was that it was hard for them to do it alone, logistically, because there were many hurdles surrounding them. It is here that Lisa began brainstorming on ways she could empower them. Ugogo was funded by winning a grant from Publicist, a French media company, in 2016.
Kenya was the perfect ecosystem for the Ugogo project to be springboarded. It is here that the business model was proven, tested and developed. The thriving start-up landscape and technological innnovations in Kenya were just some of the elements that drew Lisa here.
Ugogo allows sellers, innovators and creators to benefit from the collective. This is because they sell together as a unit. It also allows them to sell beyond their initial market places.Although still in its pre-launch stage, Ugogo aims to help locals embrace and appreciate their continent and the products it has to offer.
What Makes Ugogo Stand Out?
Unlike other ecommerce platforms, Ugogo does not try to impose a western style in the products that are sold by the locals. Individualism and style are key aspects that the platform is trying to reflect. Ugogo operates using two main aspects: Commercialism and quality control assurance because the products need to be of a high standard to create user confidence and for customer retention. The platform has deliberately cut out the middleman. This in turn helps sellers have control and autonomy of their products.
Through small training initiatives, Ugogo is able to offer its traders tips on quality control, what should be expected from their products and branding of their products. This raises the awareness of the sellers.
Challenges Faced On This Journey
Lisa had to make many personal sacrifices to start Ugogo, giving up a life in the UK which in turn strained some of her personal relationships. Like most entrepreneurs, despite this you have to push on if you believe in what you are doing.
Bureaucracy can often hinder progress so understanding this and how to navigate different obstacles such as this was important. Team dynamics were also critical. Bringing onboard the right people can make or break projects. Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey where you’re constantly learning and facing challenges which you have to learn how to grapple with.
Through the grant Lisa received from Publicist, she was able to build the technology however, she has ultimately been keeping Ugogo up and running through her marketing agency ChewingRice. Were it not for this, Lisa agrees that financing Ugogo and herself would have been a challenge.
Advice To Entrepreneurs
“You’re always going to underestimate what it’s going to cost so try and raise more than what you think you need,” this is a tip that Lisa believes will work for all entrepreneurs. According to her, “you should always try and get as much built as you can as long as you have an income so that when you decide to take up the work full-time you are ready to start raising investment.””
Ugogo has empowered local artists and given them the ability to lift themselves out of poverty, with the increased ability to reach a wider audience.
We are excited for the milestones the platform has managed to attain this far and we are closely watching their next huge step in the business world.
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