When Google shut down Trader everywhere, Investment AB Kinnevik-backed Saltside Technologies was seeing an opportunity, especially in emerging markets. The firm launched Tonaton in Ghana, Bikroy.com in Bangladesh and Ikman.lk in Sri Lanka which aim to be fraud-free marketplaces in emerging markets.
Nils Hammar, Chief Executive Officer of Saltside Technologies, said, “Our mission is to create a safe, large,and efficient marketplace for millions of peopleto make deals who could not previously access them. We’ve witnessed first-hand how powerful efficient markets are in improving ordinary people’s lives. We want to support and foster the naturally entrepreneurial attitude which is prevalent in these markets.”
Now this general classifieds sites have reported listings are growing at 300 per cent a year, drawing in millions of views a month in a period where the vast majority of people are coming online for the first time primarily through low cost internet access on mobile phones.
Founded by former Skype employees, Saltside aims to provide vital online infrastructure for emerging markets across Africa and Asia, in local languages. Ghana’s Tonaton meaning “buy and sell” in Ghana’s Twi is enabling local fashion designers
to expand their businesses, giving them a bigger platform to showcase their craft to Ghana’s growing middle class.
“The combined value of online advertising in Africa and The Middle East is expected to reach $2.8bn by 2016
, and in Asia that figure is expected to hit $53.2bn by 2016
. Yet, far too many countries in these incredibly dynamic markets are overlooked, including those with the most growth potential like Ghana, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and many others. At Saltside, our goal is to be the forefront of enabling those markets to get online and access buyers and sellers from across their country, as well as locally,” added Hammar.
Though Tonaton claims over 600,00 unique visitors per month and an estimated 90,000-plus items listed on the site, Naspers OLX, Ringier’s PigiaMe and Kiramu and Shibsted’s TradeStable
are however watching Tonaton closely and apart from its success in Ghana, it might not be easy to take over other markets in Africa which are predominantly OLX-dominated.