The rise in the number of Bangladeshi women engaged in different labor sectors is no doubt a welcome change. According to the World Bank, their participation increased from 29.85% to 36.37% in the past 9 years. However, with progress comes the barriers that stop it. Right now, what Bangladesh needs are platforms for business women, especially in rural settings, to overcome these social barriers. This will ultimately benefit the economy nationwide. Startups like ShopUp pave the way towards such progress. ShopUp, the largest B2B commerce platform in Bangladesh, is changing the lives of small traders, especially women.
Anita Rani Das is the owner of Purba Store, located in a well-established market in her area. It is pretty uncommon for a woman to start a grocery store, and Anita did not initially plan to be the shop owner. She planned to open a shop for her younger brother, but things didn’t work out as her brother took some of the money meant to be invested in the business and left abruptly. So Anita had no choice but to step up and run the shop herself.
At first, she struggled with numerous social issues of being a businesswoman in a male-dominated environment. The traditional suppliers would not take her seriously, and it was always challenging for her to travel to distant locations in order to gather quality products at competitive prices.
Anita decided to seek help from her male relatives, but they would take advantage of her by keeping a significant percentage from the suppliers, which greatly reduced Anita’s own profit margin. Frustrated at not being able to make much profit, Anita soon heard about Mokam from a sales representative. She took the courageous step of embracing technology, and started sourcing all her products from the Mokam smartphone app, with a huge catalogue of 10,000+ products available at great prices.
Mokam removes multiple layers from traditional product sourcing model by using a common delivery channel directly transferring goods from producer to trader. Hence, Mokam is able to significantly bring down costs and ultimately transfer more of the value to the trader. In this way, small businesses or shop owners like Anita can make more profit and her time and effort is also saved since Mokam ensures timely doorstep delivery even outside Dhaka. That is how Mokam, a ShopUp service, is empowering business women in the retail industry of Bangladesh.
With the help of Baki, a digital embedded credit product from ShopUp, Anita can also avail inventory from Mokam on credit. This allows her and other Mokam merchants to increase their business size by getting more products to sell, which would otherwise be inaccessible without more capital investment.
The services of ShopUp have been of great use for retailers, encouraging many women like Anita Das Rani to take up this other-wise male-dominated business in Bangladesh. Mokam is already serving half a million retailers all across the country and looks set to grow further with the help of other complementary ShopUp products like Baki for financing, and REDX for logistics.