African startups are harnessing WhatsApp’s power


In recent years, there has been a notable shift among African startups, as they increasingly turn to WhatsApp as a primary means to offer and distribute their products and services.

According to DataReportal’s Digital 2023: Global Overview report, WhatsApp has gained traction with 15.8% of internet users across the world preferring it over other platforms, as WhatsApp users spend an average of 17 hours and 20 minutes on the app each month. This trend is also particularly evident across Africa, where countries like Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa have over 70% of their internet users frequently using WhatsApp.

The attractiveness of WhatsApp as a distribution channel for African startups lies in its massive user base and the extensive time users spend on the app monthly. Notable examples include Foondamate, a South African Ed-tech startup delivering educational solutions via an AI-powered conversational chatbot on WhatsApp, and MotiSure, a Kenyan startup offering micro-insurance plans through chatbot interactions.

For the record, WhatsApp has become the third most used social media platform, with 2 billion Monthly Active Users (MAU) globally as of 2023. Another factor is WhatsApp’s ease of use and familiarity to users make it a convenient medium for businesses to interact with customers and offer products and services.

However, while WhatsApp offers immense potential to be tapped, it also comes with data privacy concerns, making it critical for African startups using WhatsApp to stick to the platform’s privacy policies and guidelines. Implementing robust security measures to protect customer information and ensuring compliance with relevant data protection regulations are important.

Startups should be transparent with customers about data usage and seek their consent when necessary. Establishing trust and credibility in handling customer data is key to the long-term success of this distribution approach.

In conclusion, African startups can strategically leverage WhatsApp while being mindful of its user-centric risks. They can also carve a successful path in the competitive space to offer innovative products and services to a large and engaged market across the African continent.


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