Kenya Slum Vegetable Sellers Grow Muscle

Cash-strapped vegetable sellers in a Nairobi slum get wholesale prices by aggregating demand through SMS system SokoText.

Autor*in Annalisa Dorigo, 04.01.15

Cash-strapped vegetable sellers in a Nairobi slum get wholesale prices by aggregating demand through SMS system SokoText.

Due to their small purchasing power, small vendors cannot benefit from wholesale prices. With their prices remaining high, and price conscious consumers seeking out the best deals available, the future of small vendors is increasingly uncertain. The closing down of such micro-enterprises does not just lead to loss of livelihoods for the vendors, it can also have detrimental effects within those communities who lack access to alternative food suppliers.The issue of food security within poor communities got a few clever heads thinking and the result was SokoText.  Started in May 2014, SokoText allows vegetable sellers in the Mathare Valley slum in Nairobi to aggregate demand for food through SMS technology.

The vendors send a text message with their order to a SokoText number.  SokoText then aggregates the orders received from the vegetable sellers, buys the total amount of produce from the farmer cooperatives at wholesale prices and divides it up between the slum sellers.

By accessing wholesale prices, vendors can charge lower prices for their goods, allowing them to become competitive in the market place, helping to promote food security within the poorest communities, and also ensuring the long-term sustainability of their own enterprise and therefore their own livelihood.

Because SokoText relies on widely-available mobile phone technology, the initiative is well within reach for small-scale vendors.

This video here explains it all:

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