Weebi: the Senegalese retailer’s digital slate
A graduate of Sciences Po, he always had a ‘feeling’ for the international. His studies take him to Dakar, where he works in several start-ups. Fascinated by the country, he watches the daily challenges faced by local entrepreneurs attentively: access to funding, qualified recruiting, the cost of electricity and telecommunications, logistics, taxes… the self-sacrifice and courage that he witnesses in the very small Senegalese businesses only serves to sharpen his own determination. When one day, a grocery vendor tells him of their difficulties in keeping their accounts up to date, Pierre imagines a mobile cash register solution. “This grocery shop, like so many others in Dakar, granted credit on a daily basis to more than thirty customers. The accounts were kept in a simple notebook, which rapidly proved to be insufficient. The installation of a cash register would have required a constant power supply, which is inconceivable in Dakar. So I developed Weebi, a mobile application that enables one to follow sales, to issue bills, to manage stocks, to monitor debts, to analyse turnover in real time and to save confidential information.” Accessible via a tablet, the application also proposes payment via a digital wallet. With the knowledge that in Africa, less than 30% of the population has access to traditional banking services, mobile money constitutes a significant economic development lever. With the support of the African Innovation Lab from the Société Générale, Weebi will soon be able to offer the opening of mobile accounts and even cash withdrawals. Established at the premises of the local digital incubator Jokkolabs, the start-up now has five employees and continues its development with Senegalese retailers. “In the near future we hope to reach the 2,000 sales mark. To do so, we’re building an exclusive network of distributors in each of the French-speaking African capitals.” Potential resellers have already been identified in Burkina Faso, in Togo and in the Ivory Coast. The growing popularity of Weebi also implies a broader democratisation of the solution. Currently reserved for use only with tablets, the application will soon be downloadable to any Android device. An award winner at the Digital Africa competition, the start-up was able to take advantage of angel investors from the Agence française pour le développement (French development agency). Weebi’s ambitious objectives are currently dependent on the securing of new funding. “We need to be able to express the full potential and talent of the start-up, but the guarantees required are harsh and negotiations tough. The conditions under which we evolve here are not the same as for western start-ups. The market is still immature. But we’re confident, because the need exists!” resolves Pierre with optimism.
Weebi is a Senegalese start-up supported by the NTF IV project. Funded by the Dutch Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the NTF IV Project Senegal, is a programme that supports development in the sectors of information technologies and the externalisation of business processes. From November 2017 through to July 2021, the project supports 80 businesses, award winners for their international business development. NTF IV Senegal is implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC), in cooperation with the Senegalese Agency for the Promotion of Exports (ASEPEX) and the Organisation of Information Technology and Communication Professionals (OPTIC) of Senegal. In the long run, the NTF IV programme should contribute to the emergence of an economic environment that encourages Senegalese businesses that are active in the IT and BPO sectors.