Strengthening: Entrepreneurs through Information Technologies: In Benin, an ITC Project Is Connecting Fruit Processors with Suppliers and Buyers through a Supply-Chain Wide 'Virtual Marketplace' That Connects Product Offers to Demand through Connected Devices

Article excerpt

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One person standing to benefit is Ms. Aminatou Bagoudou, who produces pineapple fruit juice at her home in Cotonou, Benin. Pineapple juice is her main product and generates income for her family, but, as for many other women engaged in the processing industry, she is hindered by a shortage of empty bottles. If she were able to collaborate with her peers to combine purchases she would be able to source bottles from abroad, but she lacks the time and financial resources to locate the necessary contacts. She also does not know how many bottles she would need to buy to get a competitive price.

The ITC system offers three features important to small producers and traders:

* More visibility;

* Ease of contact with businesses of interest (buyers for sellers and vice-versa);

* Support for small business owners to assess their opportunity to act as a group (e.g. to access economies of scale).

Indeed, when they combine their requests for inputs and offers for buyers, small businesses can achieve volumes that put them in a better bargaining position. The business-matching system enables them to source products at more competitive prices and attain pineapple juice volumes that can open new markets, both in Benin and neighbouring Nigeria.

A geo-location system shows the area from which requests were sent. Requests are consolidated and displayed on an online map. Internet users, such as larger buyers and exporters, can then assess the geographic distribution of the juice producers and the effort required to collect their production. To assist Ms. Bagoudou and her peers, bottle resellers will be able to estimate the best way of purchasing bottles in bulk. …

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