BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
YOUNG entrepreneur Gary Ruwona (29) has implored businesses to innovate and embrace technology to increase their market, especially in the COVID-19 induced lockdown.
Ruwona, a Co-Founder and Owner of Eyellow Pages, a marketing directory for businesses said his brief stint as a cross border trader and time as a SADC marketer has shaped his vision to promote Micro to Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) through creation of an omni channel marketing strategy.
“I am determined to create an inclusive trading infrastructure that serves both larger corporates and the MSMEs. We have created a seamlessly integrated digital ecosystem made up of various products to provide businesses with services and tools that smarten the way of doing business,” he said.
“Locally, over the years we have become a market leader in omni-channel marketing and we intend to leverage the surge in mass-digital adoption to lead digital transformation across lagging sectors in Africa.”
He said being at some point a cross border trader moulded him into a strategic thinker in marketing ideas hence his coming up with the strategy to benefit informal traders.
“As 70 percent of employment in Africa is informal, imagine if there was a way to make it formal, would not that be a great outcome for Africa?”
“While I was part of the SADC Advertising Team, I helped in building the regional business directory. I later decided to take a leap of faith and start working on my ideas using the knowledge and skills I acquired as a SADC marketer,” he said.
“This was the birth of E-Directories, a privately registered company that has gone on to create other products that have been unbundled into standalone companies to foster growth.”
In 2014, he founded a hardcopy directory and catalogue that listed business across Zimbabwe and the E-Yellow pages, an online version of the directory that has grown into the second largest online business directory in Zimbabwe.
He said the vision was to help SMEs gain visibility and increase sales in an affordable and dignified manner.
“At the end of 2018, the E-Yellow Digital Network grew to include E-Branding which is a branding and printing company and Think Debug Zimbabwe which is a Technology Development Company created as a partnership with Think Debug India,” he said.
“This was the beginning of the omni channel strategy which has since seen the development of Kulies which has coined the term “The Alibaba of Africa”, due to its B2B2C business model and marketplace features.”
Ruwona said COVID-19 has brought many businesses down but encouraged people to soldier on.
“COVID-19 has not stopped people from transacting; it is just diverted and dispersed much of that activity across different channels. To cope with the shifts in market systems requires strategic innovation and business modelling,” he said.
“The way we see it companies are being forced into digital maturity as COVID-19 actually spurs growth of e-commerce innovation”
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