Growing businesses on digital platforms

Thursday February 10 2022
Food delivery, Rwanda.

As the pandemic locked down restaurants, Ballistic Burgers was born in Rwanda complete with delivery motorbikes. PHOTO | POOL


When Nadine Atete worked in the United Arab Emirates, her heart was back home in Kigali. Not even the impressive high-rise residential buildings and weekends at famous Dubai tourist sites could quench her longing for Rwanda.

Yet she had no idea what she would do if she was to return home. It was lack of employment that had driven the then 23-year-old to the UAE.

Then she decided to save part of her salary for a year and a half, and return home where she would set up a business.

Two months to the time Atete had set to fly back home, the WHO declared the Covid-19 pandemic. She was not sure if would be possible to start her business. But she was determined to come back to Rwanda and left the UAE.

Among the business ideas in her mind, Atete zeroed down to buying women's clothes, shoes and accessories in Dubai to begin her garments business in Kigali.

She hadn’t budgeted for opening up a shop, and her savings were depleted from buying the products. Upon reaching Kigali, she posted all the merchandise on her Instagram page along with her phone contacts. Within minutes, her friends, and strangers, started placing orders.


Atete directed some of those who could come to her home to pick the products, and worked with delivery services to get the products to others.

“In less than a month, all the clothes, accessories and shoes were sold. I ended up opening my shop on Instagram and I have been selling from there since,” she said.

Although the number of millennials joining social media platforms and the time they spend on them have been growing in the past, the trend has seen an exponential growth because of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns and curfews in the past two years.

Many people on social media apps like Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp and tiktok come across products being advertised there.

Having co-founded Ballistic Burgers during the lockdown with his housemate, as they experimented with different recipes, Richard Rusa has continued to use WhatsApp as the central platform for customers to place orders.

The burger is delivered by motorbike and the customer pays using mobile money.

At the age of 19, Johnson started selling his confectionary products on Instagram and Twitter, two platforms that he continues to use two years later.

His clientele base has grown from selling to friends in 2020 to selling cakes to embassies and corporate organisations, who also make orders on social media and the cakes are delivered to their doorsteps.

Social media users have seen even faster growth than Internet users over the past decade. Today’s total of 4.62 billion social media users is three times higher than the 1.48 billion figure published in 2012.