Prepare to be surprised by clever innovation from fearless entrepreneurs lurking profitable markets.
With more than 2,5 millions registered users in Africa in less than 6 months, 3000+ new registered members every day, and more than 100 millions page views per month, MoboFree is proving that there is another way to bring social networking to people in developing countries but with usefulness.
According to Opera State of the mobile web, June 2013, MoboFree was among the top 10 of the most visited mobile sites in Nigeria and has quite good positions in other African countries such as Zimbabwe or Malawi. 1.2 million of Mobofree users are Nigerians.
The first question that came to my mind when I heard about the hockey stick growth of Mobofree in Africa was: “What makes Mobofree so attractive to people when they have huge and popular social network sites like Facebook, MXit or Eskimi in Africa?”
The Answer came in a clever combination of 3 great features: flirting and dating, a social marketplace, and a social wall like on Facebook. However, the single most powerful feature that makes MoboFree addictive is the social marketplace.
Here is why? Nigeria is now the fastest growing economy in Africa, and also enjoying the fastest growing middle class per capita in the world. Consumption is rampant, and a flourishing second market, like Ebay, is rapidly emerging. What Mobofree did very well is this: to flirt or date you need a nice picture and a good description of yourself. Fake photos and profiles don’t work for long. In this way Mobofree get real people with almost verified profile. As people post on the marketplace with the same profile, the result is a nice social marketplace which minimizes the risk of spamming and scamming (We are talking about Nigeria).
“The biggest advantage we have in comparison with biggest local boards of classifieds is a strong internal community. When you want to buy or sell something via usual classifieds site – you usually see phone number of “mister unknown”. You have zero information about seller/buyer and risk to be dumped is extremely high. In MoboFree situation is different – both seller and buyer become more visible – you can see their photos, names, reviews by other members, how long they are registered to this site. Finally you can always start a deal from friendly chat or even flirt and if person looks reliable to you – proceed to deal in real life.” said Neringa Pazusyte, The CEO of the company.
Of course this does not protect 100% from scammers, but it’s much safer in comparison to buying from usual classifieds boards, especially if you do some research and choose to make deals only with people who have gained reputation on MoboFree and have several positive feedback.
In a promiscuous country like Nigeria (170 millions inhabitants), reselling shiny toys (smartphones, electronic gadgets, etc.) or working in a company that posts job offers would instantly raise guys social status and attractiveness.
Mobofree seems to be winning the trust battle which currently is the biggest obstacle for ecommerce growth in Africa. Their big plan is to “become Africa’s largest social marketplace by traffic, page views, ad volume and revenue.”
My feeling is that we are seeing some king of African Ebay or Craiglist emerging here, and the steady growth and engagement the startup is enjoying might a sign.
MoboFree is developed and supported by team of 3 people, based in Vilnius, Lithuania.