Many countries emphasize the need for citizens to buy locally made products to help their respective economy. This was evident when Nigeria launched the #BuyNaijaToSaveTheNaira campaign, and online retail stores like Junia followed suit by creating a special platform for locally made goods. The result of this cannot be over emphasized.

It is however very encouraging to have more online stores taking this route. On the spotlight today is MIRO – short for Made In Rwanda Online. MIRO is an online marketplace strictly for Made in Rwanda products. The platform which has liased with over 50 local manufacturers so far, hopes to replicate this model in other African countries. It would be very nice to see each country rely on their own products, unlike the current craze for foreign.

However, the quality of these products should be put into consideration. But Alain Nkazamurego, Managing Director of MIRO thinks some African, and Rwandan products can actually compete with their global counterparts. He also referenced some others that would need better packaging and product description.

Read the full interview below with Alain Nkazamurego, who is at the helm of MIRO.

Made in Rwanda Online – MIRO

MIRO is an online marketplace for Made in Rwanda products. Why the special bias towards just Rwandan products?

R: Actually, we started with made in Rwanda Products to validate our business model and develop our platform as Rwanda is one of the best African countries in ICT development and easy doing business but our main focus is to connect all African products on one platform starting with Rwanda and soon Guinea.

So far, how much interest has the world picked in the Made in Rwanda goods?

R: Dispute the geographical situation of Rwanda and many African countries world loves our local products as they are organic, and they are unique meanwhile we need to increase awareness because some areas don’t have idea on what is made in Africa/Rwanda

How big is the retail industry in Rwanda? How much is MIRO serving yet?

R: The retails industry in Rwanda is picking, on our side we are focusing on increasing export and looking on cross-border trade. We are looking at taking 55% of this market

In your own view, can products made in Rwanda favourably compete with others globally?

R: Some products are ready to jump on global market but there are others with many things that need to be done especially in packaging and product description, we just need to keep creating awareness and improve our supply chain management.

How big has MIRO grown since launch? Tell us your numbers.

Our platform was launched in May since then we have signed agreement with 50 local sellers and manufacturers with more than 560 products, we have signed strategical partnerships with several institutions such as Rwanda Development Board (RDB), Private Sector Federation (PSF), DHL, EMS, FedEx, Equity Bank

How much of a problem has logistics been so far?

R: This was a challenging issue as there was no supply chain management system existing for many sellers as well as the stock management. For now, we have one developed for this purpose.

MIRO locally made products

Does MIRO employ pay on delivery method or strictly online payment?

R: We just accept online payment including Credit Card and Mobile payment. Cash on delivery is too risky as people can change their mind in a second, we want them to learn the complete online solution.

Tell us how you’ve been funded till date.

R: Till now we have been using our own money but we are looking for investors

Are there any competitors? Tell us about them, and how you’ve been able to deal.

R: There are many e-commerce websites but they don’t focus on locally made products or don’t have much variety. We brought a solution to African real challenges as the platform is 100% Made in Rwanda from scratch. We take our time to discuss with sellers and manufactures as well listen to customer’s needs.

In 5 years, how big do you envisage MIRO?

R: In 5 years, we plan to have complete system with a supply chain management system and making more than 1 million transactions per months

Do you at any point plan featuring other NOT made in Rwanda products?

R: for now, we have signed a MoU with APIP-Guinea to start developing a made in Guinea platform and we are planning to go in other African countries, technically speaking we are ready but this need more partners and investors

Complete this statement…

“In 10 years, the African retail industry would be worth… (4 Trillion) “.