Africa 118 is a company founded in 2010 with the mission to help African startups and Small & Medium Enterprises(SMEs) get discovered online.
For the past 10 years Africa 118 has been doing that in three ways: developing accurate business directories; providing SMEs with digital marketing services, and creating a complete, accurate, flexible database.
In the month of April 2021, GSMA has chosen to fund five African companies out of 589 applications from 44 countries. Africa 118 from Ethiopia has become one of the grantees of this award with its digital starter pack solution for SMEs.
GSMA Innovation Fund for Mobile Internet Adoption and Digital Inclusion is a fund that aims to increase mobile internet adoption and usage for the underserved. The fund was launched in April 2020.
The problem Africa 118 has set out to tackle through this specific Innovative fund is the lack of digital presence 90% of Ethiopian SMEs have.
This digital presence gap is caused due to a lack of simple, affordable, and effective solutions to help them build an online presence.
The lack of digital skills to build and maintain a digital presence is also believed to be another reason for this problem.
Upon receiving the grant Africa 118 plans to help Ethiopian SMEs build a strong digital presence with a 50% price discount from alternative solutions.
The program will offer SME’s a digital starter pack that will provide them with a digital presence on Google & Facebook, eCommerce and Mobile payment integration, and in-person training.
Yonas Abeje, Country Manager for Africa 118 commented “The impact of the Digital starter pack has been massive, from employment creation to increase in sales and also not forgetting access to a wider market.”
“The increased engagement and interaction between customers and businesses which was little or lacking previously is also worth mentioning” Yonas added.
Priced at $100 per year and with the availability of a monthly payment plan, Africa 118 aspires to reach 10,000 SMEs.
TaskMoby, a project under Africa118 has also been a grantee for the GSMA award back in 2019 on a different fund category- GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator Innovation Fund.
Taskmoby is a digital marketplace in Ethiopia that connects customers with home service providers, leveraging a mobile application, SMS/USSD solutions, and a dedicated call center.
Currently, Africa 118 is also working on the Norad SMEs Digital Launchpad project which is a 3-year project that works to empower women in business with digital skills and tools.