Whether you are based in the USA, Europe, Asia or Africa, SMEs are the backbone of most, if not all, economies.
While the spotlight seems focused on the large corporates or the latest fast growth tech startup, the majority of jobs are created by SMEs, whether this is in retail, manufacturing, hospitality, food, transportation and other services. After all, the majority of entrepreneurs are not university drop outs starting a company in their parents’ garage in Silicon Valley.
So what about the “Bottom of the Pyramid” entrepreneurs i.e. those living and earning their living within the “informal sectors” in Africa or Asia? What about the young man who walks door to door fixing radios and mobile phones, or the young mother who (with her baby securely strapped to her back), sells fruits & vegetables to passers-by? Or the woman who sells platefuls of delicious hot food in the open air but has to sell under the railway arches on rainy days, or the elderly gentleman whose barber shop is a chair under a mango tree or the young shoe shiner? All are entrepreneurs, often with no shop/fixed address.
Africa and Asia are full of such entrepreneurs. Indeed, while “pop up” shops and mobile restaurants now seem to be (all) the rage in western countries, in Africa and Asia, such vendors have been around for centuries. In fact, in some functions within the corporate world, the informal sector is beating the established corporates hands down.
Take a corporate function like Supply Chain where multinationals have invested heavily in sophisticated process improvement methodologies (known as Six Sigma) to raise productivity, improve quality, increase the bottom line and improve customer experience and yet, most are no match for the Dabbawalas in India (delivery company run predominantly by illiterate members but with a top Six Sigma rating). The Dabbawala industry which has been around for over 125 years, delivers around 400,000 lunch boxes every day (on time, to the correct location), using trains and bicycles with little or no technology whatsoever. The Dabbawala industry has a top six sigma level that would make airline flag carriers proud.
MASTAMAP – GPS Location Finder Web and Android application
How then can street vendors attract more customers (including those outside their neighbourhood), if they do not have a permanent address with some not even at the same location each week? This is where MastaMap.com comes in.
WHAT IS MASTAMAP? Mastamap is a Location Finder Web and Android app which enables users to Search, Add & Share location codes. No more complicated directions or address system. Just enter a simple code on our website and bingo – your location is visible (to those with whom you have shared the code), on Google Maps. What advantage does MastaMap have over google? (1) SPEED, (2) CONVENIENCE & (3) ACCURACY especially in emerging markets and in the western world, rural areas or the outdoors (skiing or trekking for example). MastaMap also generates an alphanumeric code thus making it possible for even those not educated past primary school level, to read & share the code with potential customers.
HOW CAN MASTAMAP BE USED? Initially, we created Mastamap to help candidates from AfricaTalentbank.com (our other startup), to find locations when attending interviews and Graduate Open days however, we soon discovered how versatile the MastaMap app was, when one of our users used it to locate a friend in a large hospital after the hospital receptionist could not locate the patient. A simple code was all it took instead of back & forth phone calls/texts directing the visitor every 5 minutes.
We then started to see how the Mastamap web and android app could be used by people in various sectors including: Event planners, Restaurants, Taxis, Conservationists, NGO programmes in remote areas and of course, SMEs including those with no fixed abode such as street (food) vendors, mobile hairdressers, ice-cream vendors, show shiners & mobile car wash.
On a personal level, no matter which city I happen to be in, I always try and make time to taste some ‘street food’. When I am off duty and taking time to explore a city, I am immediately drawn to good, authentic, street food. The problem is however, I can never find the same place on my return visit and this is where MastaMap has enabled me to capture the location and return for more culinary delights the following day or visit, as well as share the location with friends travelling to the same country who share my passion for local beauty spots (beautiful parks & beaches), good food & architecture.
SUPPORTING SMALL ENTREPRENEURS, NGOs & CONSERVATIONISTS – By generating and then sharing location codes of your favourite vendors, MastaMap can be used to advertise the services of small vendors who have no access to social or marketing platforms or the media; we in effect become their Brand Ambassadors. So, why not join this movement and support micro-businesses, street artists & vendors by publicising their location? NGOs can also use the app in rural areas by sharing location codes to enable people to join their health, food and other programmes. Conservationists can also use the app to keep track of locations of endangered or other species and so the list goes on.
MastaMap is simple to use so why not try it for yourself? No matter where you are in the world, PIN that special place and share! You can Search or Add a location code at this website https://web.mastamap.com/ or Learn More at the MastaMap Home page – https://mastamap.com/
NOTE: You can test the MastaMap Search functionality by simply going to https://web.mastamap.com/ then entering GB7ENDV (Mandarin Hotel, London) or KE9XKZXY (Kempinski Hotel, Nairobi). If you wish to generate a location code, simply Sign Up, PIN your location and Save. (Less than 1 minute).
Written by: Miriam Mukasa (Co-founder MastaMap & Founder & MD, AfricaTalentbank.com)
Photo Credits: Showme.co.za & BackPackerLee