Cashless Good

Photo courtesy SOKO

The mobile money based SOKO helps African goods makers

5.6 million items were sold on Etsy in the month of September alone. That’s equivalent to one item for every resident of Denmark. And that’s just Etsy – never mind the presumably hemisphere-sized eBay and others.

We take it for granted that we can buy handcrafted original goods on the web. Of course, we rarely stop to think about the infrastructure that makes those transactions possible, specifically bank accounts.

So for the world’s unbanked, being a buyer or seller online is largely out of reach. Or at least it takes a clever solution.

Newly-launched SOKO has one. The platform features jewelry and accessories from artisans in the developing world. Buyers anywhere can browse the collections in the SOKO shop, and when a transaction occurs, the creator is paid entirely in mobile money.

SOKO launched in Kenya, the world leader in mobile money (nearly two-thirds of the adult population is on M-PESA, the largest network, and some 25% of the country’s gross national product flows through it).

The sellers can upload pictures of their products directly from their mobile phones. And the SOKO platform gives them data to help manage inventory and see the profitability of each product.

“For people in these communities, learning these basic business concepts can make a huge difference,” SOKO’s Chief Strategy Officer Diana Biggs told us.

The collections are curated by the SOKO team and feature stunning earrings, necklaces, and bracelets ranging from $30 to $180. For buyers seeking something original, it’s a compelling offering. Check out what SOKO has to offer here.

Now go forth (and compare Ouija board lunch boxes on Etsy).

$1,800: Annual per capital income in Kenya

2nd: Rank in height of Mt. Kenya of all African mountains

1874: Year Southern Comfort (SoCo) was first produced in New Orleans bar