This blog is the first of a series intended to share insights about our Innovation Fund portfolio start-ups. Beyond details on the start-ups’ operating model(s) and local impact, we want to highlight how these entrepreneurs are working hand-in-hand with mobile operators to unlock synergies benefiting all.
In this first edition, we want you to meet Optimetriks, a crowdsourced mobile-based and real-time data collection service for Africa’s Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) companies.
There is a growing opportunity for FMCG companies in Africa’s expanding household consumption market (Kenya alone represents $28 billion in retail sales annually). In spite of the growth in consumption, the majority of retail sales still happen in small outlets. In Kenya, about 70 per cent of the population does their daily shopping in open markets and through other informal channels. Distribution is therefore costly, fragmented and dependent on multiple layers of intermediaries. Brands have limited information on their markets and commercial performance, which leads to errors in assessing dynamics, universe size, stocks levels, merchandising or pricing.
Launched in 2015, Optimetriks’ solution leverages a community of users, paid per visit, to perform retail census and audits, collect data on the ground and take pictures at outlets through Optimetriks’ native Android application and a Facebook Messenger chatbot. The aggregated crowdsourced data is then screened and cleaned, photos are analysed through an artificial intelligence solution, and the results are displayed to FMCG companies through live web business intelligence dashboards.
Headquartered in Nairobi, Optimetriks and its team of 15 staff, which spans four countries, has so far (as of July, 2017) conducted over 250,000 visits to outlets and collected over one million data points thanks to their 1,500 strong community of users. This data has been supporting 10 companies in improving their distribution across Africa.
Optimetriks received a grant from the GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator Innovation Fund in April 2017 to:
- Improve the existing service through enhanced platform capabilities;
- Improve the user scoring mechanism and the design of customised training material; and
- Advance the service in Kenya and Uganda By doing so, Optimetriks is planning to unlock additional income for more than 700 new users by the end of the grant in 2018.
Beyond this funding, the GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator is supporting Optimetriks to strengthen its relationship with mobile operators across three main areas:
- Improvement of mobile operators’ distribution efficiency;
- Insurance of consistent customer experience at agent level for mobile users; and
- Integration with mobile operators’ mobile money APIs.
The Ecosystem Accelerator programme is supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Australian Government, the GSMA and its members.