Aboubacar Sindy Sonko founded MLouma in 2012 with the goal of supporting Senegal’s farmers and making the country’s agricultural market more efficient. Begun as a purely web-based platform, MLouma saw its growth accelerate with far more farmers and buyers connected once mobile access was added. Aboubacar recounts how partnering with Orange via the Developer Challenge and integrating its APIs gave MLouma both the visibility and the technical means to reach a wide audience.
We were trying to reach our number one target audience, rural farmers, but they typically live in areas with very limited internet access. So while the platform went online in 2013, we couldn’t, at that time, offer them a system to quickly and easily find buyers – we needed to make it accessible on feature phones. Participating in the Orange Developer Challenge was an opportunity to gain visibility and to integrate APIs that would enable them to interact with the platform via mobile.
The Challenge itself was an amazing opportunity to find new ways of developing our service. The competition was very tough but we had the support of the local Orange team, who were always available to help us deal with technical challenges. At the end of 2015, during our testing phase, we also received support from Orange in the form of a media campaign to advertise our service.
This, coupled with API integration, suddenly made our service available everywhere, jump-starting our user base as it grew from under 1,000 to 75,000 in about six months. We could hardly believe the numbers!
Our service can now truly be accessed from anywhere and we have the user base to prove it. The next step is to increase our conversion rate and grow our revenue. Beyond that, we want to expand our coverage to all of Senegal and later abroad.
Our two strengths are the scalability of our service and the quality of our partnership with Orange and their network of APIs in MEA. Now we need to continue connecting with the right people and companies to help grow our product.