So what is the key to unlocking this great potential? The team at FIGJAM believe it is learning and analysing the big data that is harboured in the informal streets of African trade. Just as Eliud Kipchoge showed the world how data driven knowledge and science can help achieve the seemingly impossible, so too do FIGJAM’s data analysts. “ Not only does imperical data give you knowledge, it helps your business compete and strategise in a highly fluid environment” says lead analyst Aiden Connolly.

Connolly has spent the last 2 months painstakingly mapping hundreds of ‘hole in the wall’ sales outlets for a well known FMCG brand in Zimbabwe. When asked how knowledge of sales distribution location will help a brand his answer is strikingly simple. “Geo-spatial data insights allow a business to report on key performance indicators relative to location. For example, high density dwellings in Kenya and Zimbabwe prefer smaller packaged goods.” This helps brands plan their go-to-market strategies and even re-formulate their product delivery in order to yield maximal results.

Businesses well versed in the realties of semi-formal and informal trade are aligning themselves to FIGJAM’s app that allows field teams to proactively add sales outlets on the fly, concurrently collecting basic information such as products sold, in relative quantum, alongside small business owner information, topped by geo-locating pins that can be easily mapped for future use with route planning activities.

With this data in hand formal businesses are better equipped to build relationships with hundreds of micro, but exceptionally important, retailers. Building brand in Africa is not a simple case of show and tell. It’s a case of being available and delivering product and brand that meets the ability of the market, where the market wants it, in the way the market wants it.

This article was prepared by the FIGJAM marketing team.