In Burundi, a 2010 survey “Use of the Internet in Burundi” conducted by Burundi Internet General Applications Network (BIGAN) showed that more than 70 percent of respondents in rural communities felt that ecommerce can significantly address some of their business challenges, such as inadequate supply of inputs in remote areas. At the same time, the study identified several challenges to unlocking this opportunity, such as lack of Internet connectivity and skills; poor online payment systems; lack of logistics services for small business; and lack of trust in online transactions.
Burundi Shop has worked to address these gaps by setting up an online business distribution center where products and services of East African companies can be easily found and sold online as well as through agents operating across the country. The project places “national agents” to help small traders to build their online stores free of charge, enable customers to track their goods using the Internet or by text messages, and use Isoko Courier Services to affordably deliver small shipments door-to-door. The agents are connected to four major East African platforms. The main expected benefit is that the project will enable companies to order supplies directly from a manufacturer and thereby bypass brokers. Reduction in supply chain cost from the one stop shopping will also reduce costs, with some of the savings passed onto the consumers.