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Q&A with Felix Manford, CEO of Tendo

By Noel Oduory

Starting an online retail business can be challenging. From securing products to managing logistics, the list of requirements can be daunting. Tendo, a Ghanaian startup focused on social commerce and dropshipping, is simplifying this process. Through their mobile app, Tendo enables individuals to launch online businesses without the need for upfront inventory costs. Resellers on Tendo can source products, mark them up, and market via social media, while Tendo fulfils the orders. With Tendo, micro-entrepreneurs can overcome barriers to entry into eCommerce. The company operates in Ghana and Nigeria, with expansion to South Africa planned later this year.

In today’s Innovation Insight, we interview Felix Manford, CEO of Tendo. 

What inspired you to start Tendo?

Tendo started as an influencer marketing platform called Hashfyre. It allowed young social media users to join influencer campaigns for brands and get paid for it. The brands could also track the metrics of the campaign and grow their business. But as we built the Hashfyre community, we learned that most of our users wanted to start their own businesses and not just do social media and influencer campaigns. They had significant followings on social media, and they were very driven and entrepreneurial.

What problems did you see in e-commerce that Tendo aims to solve?

When we asked our users why they hadn’t started their own businesses, the overwhelming feedback was that they lacked capital to buy inventory. They also couldn’t access loans or credit from banks, because of their lack of credit history. So we figured out a solution that could help them start a business without any capital. That’s how Tendo was born.

How does the Tendo app work?

A user logs into the app and provides some details about themselves and their preferences. The app recommends products to the reseller from a wide range of categories, such as fashion, beauty, electronics, and fast-moving consumer goods. There are about 4000 products on the app. The user can add their profit margin to the products, anywhere between 15% to 50% of the product value. The reseller shares the products on social media platforms, such as WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook, with the image, price, description, and payment link attached. They can negotiate with customers and secure sales through their social media channels.

The merchants can place the order for their customers on the app, or the customer can use the payment link to place the order themselves. Tendo will then collect the products from the supplier, deliver them to the user’s customer, and collect the funds. Tendo will send the user’s profit to their Tendo wallet, which they can cash out to their bank account or mobile money.

How are you acquiring users and growing your reseller/supplier base? What are the main channels and strategies?

Our typical reseller is between the ages of 20 to 35, and a majority of them are women (70%). We use three main channels and strategies to onboard them. First, we do campus onboarding to attract young people who are eager to start their businesses. Second, we partner with women’s groups in various communities, such as churches, organisations, and schools, as they have proven to be the most successful and profitable on our platform. Third, we do online outreach to find people who are already selling or trying to sell online, and we show them how they can transition to a zero capital model where they don’t have to buy inventory anymore.

Tendo is shaping digital commerce in Africa by putting selling power in the hands of everyday users and tackling the lack of trust amongst African consumers when it comes to shopping online. They are currently servicing 10,000+ resellers who reach more than 30,000 customers across the markets that they operate in, with the average top reseller income of around $200 a month. Look out for more information on Tendo in our upcoming innovation memo.

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