The Informal Trade meets Tech

Informal trade is a major source of employment in Kenya, with 80% of the workforce engaged in it, this is 15.26 million people 15.26! This is according to a research done by Staticta Kenya in November 2022.

Of the 80%, 9.36 million people are in the wholesale, retail and hotel industry while 3.15 million people are in the manufacturing industry.

The conversation of the use of technology in this sector is becoming increasingly important as a means to improve efficiency and profitability.  So how will tech manage to penetrate such a rigid form of trade?

Allen Kambuni, CEO and Co-founder of OTM (Over The Mobile) a POS system that bridges the gap between manufacturers, wholesalers and retail businesses in FMCG explains how the company has managed to navigate the industry. 

 “It’s more of empowerment rather than penetration,” Allen Kambuni says.

This triggers a new conversation of why empower and not penetrate. The answer is in the numbers. A study done by the checkpoint system, a retail company, shows the pilferage average in retail globally is at 1.33% while the profit margins sit between 1% and 3%.  This means just as much as businesses gain they lose too. Making it hard for them to stay a float.

OTM  not only levels the playing field for small wholesale businesses by providing a state of the art system for free but it also assists in overcoming a key problem in the informal trade through its system.

The system enables its wide range of users (Manufacturers, Wholesalers and Kiosks) to grow their businesses.

Through the portal manufacturers have access to market share information, sell out data, buy in data, stock levels for theirs and their competitor SKUs and live competitor pricing.

The OTM App enables kiosks and sales representatives to place orders directly from wholesalers in real time, earn cashback on OTM exclusive manufacturer SKUs and manage credit control.

Better Deals, a wholesale shop located in Kitengela  and also an OTM client, has experienced immense growth since joining OTM in 2018.

They are now not only a wholesaler but also a distributor, one of the larger ones in the area.


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