“There was some uncertainty at the start. But we have had good days. Having a support system is important,” said Mohammad Iqbal, the owner of a women’s apparel business based in Karachi.
For almost four years now, Iqbal has been connecting with customers across the Country through his online shop on Daraz, the Country’s largest online marketplace.
When in early March, the Pakistan government imposed a nationwide lockdown, placing restrictions on business operations, Iqbal was one of several owners of small and medium enterprises in the country who were thrust into an indefinite period of uncertainty.
“I did not know what to expect if customers would make purchases,” Iqbal said.
While the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is yet to become clear, the small-and-medium enterprises sector – which contributes to 80% of the country’s non-agricultural employment and 40% of the country’s GDP – has borne significant damage.
Even when the government eased restrictions late April and permitted businesses to operate online, owners faced the challenge of transitioning online with little technical, operational, and logistical expertise and equipment.
With SMEs forming a large majority of Daraz’ growing community of 30,000 marketplace sellers and with the platform standing in a unique position to contribute to the economy with customers turning towards ecommerce as a solution, Daraz launched the Humqadam program, inviting businesses from across the Country to set up their Daraz shops with dedicated one-on-one support and access to free business consultation.
Daraz has invested Rs 4.5 million into the SME Sector and is offering businesses access to free-of-cost education and training on ecommerce operations through Daraz University – an online portal.
The platform’s mission is to make it easy for anyone to do business in the digital era, and it focuses on education to ensure sellers are able to optimize their digital ventures.
The new program is offering an expedited sign-up process, enabling businesses to start retailing on the platform as early as within two days.
Furthermore, Daraz will not be charging these sellers any commission (0%) for the months of May and June. Sellers will have access to free analytics tools which will help them optimize their digital ventures and they will also be provided with marketing promotion which will increase the traffic to their Daraz shops.
Furthermore, discounted packaging material will be made available to them.
“Daraz has lent us significant support during this time. Waiving the commission fees will be a huge help for us. We don’t know what the future holds but I am sure we will have good days,” Iqbal says.
Tags: Daraz, Humqadam Program