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Malick Birame smiles broadly when he talks about his award-winning start-up, Aywajieune. The 27-year-old lives in Dakar, the capital of Senegal. His eyes are often fixed on his mobile phone, accessing the online system he co-founded that connects fish buyers and sellers.
He says, “In Senegal, eating good fresh fish and seafood is now possible in just one click, without leaving your home or office.”
“Aywajieune” means “I sell fish” in the Wolof language. Mr. Birame created the online system in 2015 after realizing fishers were having a hard time reaching consumers, and consumers were struggling to buy seafood.
The system was the first of its kind in Senegal.
Recently, Aywajieune won the Suguba Award for the best Senegalese start-up at a competition supported by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation.
Mr. Birame has a team of five people. On the platform, they offer seafood, processed products, and both fresh and frozen fish. Around 60 sellers are registered, including fishers, wholesalers, and resellers. Their customers include both individuals and institutional consumers such as restaurants.
Customers and sellers can register for free, but Mr. Birame makes sure each seller goes though a strict inspection.
The platform’s team meets with sellers to ensure the quality of their products. After seven days of successful testing, a seller can start offering their products to customers online.
When Mr. Birame’s team receives an order on the platform, they collect the products from the seller. In Dakar, they deliver the seafood within three hours for 1,500 CFA francs ($2.70 US).
Mr. Birame says: “Aywajieune is a space that allows sellers to develop their activity and find more customers. At the same time, this platform allows consumers to save time and have easy access to fish and seafood products.”
The team receives an average of six orders a day, though they get up to 12 some days.
Mr. Birame got the idea for Aywajieune three years ago after finishing his degree in finance at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar.
He was struggling to find work and decided to start his own business.
In Senegal, 90 per cent of the population eats fish, so Mr. Birame focused his efforts there. He and his two co-founders studied the commercialization, supply, and consumption of fisheries products in Senegal, interviewing more than 500 consumers, wholesalers, and fishers.
He says: “We realized that some sellers had stocks but were having trouble reaching their customers and, at the same time, consumers often had problems buying the products as they didn’t know where to find them.”
Originally, Mr. Birame’s team set up an online platform on which sellers managed their own products. But sellers told the team they didn’t have internet or smartphones.
The team headed back to the drawing board.
They launched their second version in February 2016 with great success, winning several awards for their work.
Currently, Aywajieune makes a profit of 100 to 500 CFA francs (roughly $0.18 to $0.89 US) per item delivered.
With support from various agencies, the start-up hopes to expand and deliver products all over Senegal. They also plan to develop a communications campaign to win over skeptical sellers and consumers.
Mr. Birame says that the team has “significantly improved on its original goal” during the three years of the company’s existence.
He adds, “The platform has enabled a 25 per cent increase in sales for sellers. Today, Aywajieune has an impact on the daily lives of all the actors in the chain.”
This story was adapted from an article titled, “Aywajieune, developing online fish trading in Senegal,” published by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Co-operation. To read the original article, please see: https://www.cta.int/en/article/aywajieune,-developing-online-fish-trading-in-senegal-sid05d3fe5b8-894a-4792-8a6b-f84fe4b0a5c3