Almost a year has passed since the pandemic that is still plaguing the world started. Notwithstanding the human and economic damage inflicted by the virus, we have learned to adapt.
We have discovered that we can work from home, that we can meet people online without the need of seeing them physically. We have found out that it is so convenient to buy groceries online, and that it is fun to shop on e-commerce websites for apparel, technology, and even home furniture.
That is about consumers. But small businesses have also adapted.
With trade fairs closed and no way to travel abroad, small companies have found new ways to source products and find new customers overseas.
One way to do it is through online B2B marketplaces. As consumers, we all know huge B2C marketplaces such as Amazon.
B2B marketplaces work in a different way. First of all, they are available only for businesses. Second, they act as giant online trade fairs, where companies meet around a product and close the deal privately.
Some are generic, others focus on specific industries or geographies.
If you are looking for B2B marketplaces that focus on Europe and Africa, here are four that you should know about.
Two of them are based in Africa and two in Europe. That matters because Africa-based marketplaces tend to have more African suppliers, and the same applies vice-versa to European marketplaces.
Therefore, if for example you are a European buyer and want to source products from Africa, you should look first at the marketplaces that are based there.
Here we go.
Founded by a veteran of the international supply chain management, BaloTrade is a global B2B marketplace based in Nigeria, West Africa.
In Africa, it has a strong presence, apart from Nigeria, also in Benin, Kenya, Egypt, Ethiopia, Guinea Bissau, Gabon, Togo, and Cameron.
Having a strong base of African suppliers, it is primarily focused on local agricultural commodities such as nuts and soybeans, but you can also find other types of product categories such as apparel, beauty, chemicals, energy, furniture, machinery, etc.
A nice feature of this marketplace is that it is trying to build its own logistics network. Most B2B marketplaces do not cover this step, as they leave companies free to close the deal privately.
Logistics providers can partner with BaloTrade, that in this way can offer delivery services to member companies.
Enterprise Europe Network
Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) is a pan-European online B2B marketplace owned by the European Union, more specifically by the European Commission. It is actually a government-owned company.
EEN has been in business by more than 10 years and has a strong presence throughout the whole of Europe: not only the EU, but also Norway, Switzerland, the UK, Russia, and Turkey.
While vastly used and containing a large number of partnership opportunities (more than 6,000 as of today), EEN does not allow companies to interact directly.
Companies have to go through intermediaries called partners, i.e. government agencies or no-for-profit entities, that will put the parties in contact.
This is kind of a nuisance because the EEN partner could be slow to respond and does not let you interact freely with your potential business partner.
This beautiful marketplace is also established in Nigeria and is mostly present in Angola, Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, South Africa, and Kenya.
Founded in 2013, Cokodeal has become the largest platform in Africa for foodstuff and commodities (it actually calls itself a commodities bank).
Throughout the years the startup has won the trust of leading enterprises with which now it partners, such as Olam Coffee and Unilever Food Solutions.
Therefore, if you are looking for African cocoa or coffee, this is definitely a place where to start.
Founded in 2018 in Italy, Globartis is a great marketplace where to find European buyers.
This innovative platform focuses 100% on technology in order to give users an online-only sourcing experience. There are no partners to deal with nor annoying compliance phone calls.
Companies must provide information about their businesses; the platform’s algorithm checks the information with public data and automatically admits or rejects the applicant.
Once in, companies can interact with each other or post opportunities (which is free). There are more than 1,000 business opportunities. Not quantity, but quality, as each opportunity receives several connection requests, i.e. interested companies.
If you are an African small business willing to export to Europe, you should definitely pay a visit to this platform.