TradeNet changes its name to Esoko and looks for investors
While attending the Gasscom conference on July 22-23 2009, Balancing Act’s Sylvain Beletre interviewed entrepreneur Mark Davies of BusyInternet in Accra. He set up TradeNet back in 2005 with the encouragement of the UN and FAO, in partnership with FoodNet in Uganda, other partners and private investors.
TradeNet - http://www.tradenet.biz/ - is a popular agricultural market intelligence and trading platform used in Africa. (See our article in issue 341 - Tradenet launches market intel platform for buying and selling agricultural goods - http://www.balancingact-africa.com/news/back/balancing-act_341.html)
"TradeNet is changing its name to Esoko" explained Afua Ankomah, Product Manager for esoko. "Along with the name change there will be a new design and new services unveiled throughout the year. The platform provides current market data via SMS alerts, and the web to stakeholders among agriculture producers and traders in Africa. It is also used as a lead-generation tool. Another key benefit is that it also reduces the time and cost involved in transactions, and creates new, creative opportunities for buyers and traders”.
Esoko can be described as mix between eBay and Facebook or Linkedin dedicated to helping the agricultural sector across seven countries in Africa and in Afghanistan. Price-wise, Esoko can be used for various subscription fees adapted for individuals, businesses and large enterprises. This initiative is a response to the explosive growth of cellular services in Africa, but also a "killer app" for mobile operators to boost mobile adoption and usage, especially in rural areas. Current partners include IFDC, FAO, IFAD, Technoserve, USAID, Chemonics, Mercy Corps, MTN, Zain, UNDP and Ghana Met Office.
Mark Davies, the man behind Tradenet and esoko said that the new service could offer buyers and sellers' ratings. "There have been lots of success stories generated by Tradenet with better informed farmers using mobiles to get prices and improve trading. Using these stories and best practices observed on the field, we have packaged esoko as the next generation trading intelligence platform 2.0. What we now need is to test and roll it out to our user community. Esoko has a lot of potential in and outside of Africa. My only frustration is that we have limited resources. If we could find new investors, partners and donors, we could accelerate implementation and support more farmers." said Mark Davies, adding, "Esoko version 1 is pretty much ready to be launched, and BusyLab is currently undertaking on site market research and user surveys to validate and enhance the new platform's functionalities and benefits".