Bringing African artisan’s work to the world through a mobile to web platform. This is the mission that Catherine Mahugu, Ella Peinovich and Gwen Floyd had in mind by founding SOKO –marketplace in Swahili – a women operated company founded in 2011. With a team of 13, SOKO is growing rapidly and aims to be the first virtual marketplace where “consumers have access to beautiful products previously unavailable on the international market.” Catherine Mahugu, founder and director of technology and innovation at SOKO tells us more about this new kind of peer-to-peer business.
Inspire Afrika : If I say SOKO ?
Catherine Mahugu : I will say women empowerment because we, the 3 co-founders had a similar vision on this. We saw the disconnection between the rich cultural craft that the local artisans make, especially women, and the monetary value that they got from the sale. This problem was due to the middlemen who pockets most of their profits. The main goal of our company was to remove the middlemen and make sure that the majority of the profits go to the artisans. When we started out we named the company “SasaAfrica” and changed the name to “SOKO”. Soko means marketplace in Swahili, the national language of Kenya. Soko’s peer to peer technology revolutionizes the way developing market artisans connect with consumers worldwide. Soko’s new platform creates an online marketplace for vendors in Kenya to access consumers in the US.
Read the full interview on page 10 of the September/November 2014 issue