By Toby Sparrow, CEO of Dooka, a B2B Marketplace
Toby Sparrow is CEO of Dooka, a B2B marketplace operator who aims to transform the way African businesses connect and trade with each other. Dooka is delivered on Tradeshift’s global B2B commerce platform Marketplace using the Tradeshift Marketplace Operator solution.
Toby took the time to speak to us about the origins of Dooka, their vision for digital trade in Africa, and their decision to partner with Tradeshift.
The name Dooka came from the Swahili word ‘duka,’ meaning a shop or market. We have a vision of a digitally connected Africa where buyers and sellers can be part of this trade transformation.
The story of African procurement is rooted in complexity, particularly when it comes to managing tail spend. In 2021, our founders came together to pair deep local know-how and leading global technology to change how corporations buy goods and services across the African continent.
Just making something digital doesn’t necessarily make it better or right. When people think of B2B e-commerce, they tend to think of B2C platforms that may have extended into elements of business-to-business. These platforms typically lack the robust infrastructure and controls required by large enterprises. Procurement teams need to retain control over who they do business with. They also need to ensure relevant processes are in place to manage each transaction, from purchase requests to invoicing.
Historically, digital purchasing systems have been like “fixed landlines” in a world of smartphones. The same inefficient paper processes are simply replicated in code. Pushing paper faster is no kind of revolution. Real change means questioning and reimagining these processes from the ground up.
Our proposition for African businesses is rooted firmly in the principles of convenience and control. The Dooka marketplace is built on Tradeshift’s global e-commerce platform Marketplace. Tradeshift understands the complexities of business trade, and they’ve used this knowledge to create a marketplace platform solution that is both robust and intuitive.
Rather than going through an extensive procurement process, we enable businesses to buy on a marketplace made up of suppliers that have already been pre-vetted. We are a bridge for sellers to connect with large buyers and expand what they can do.
Building Dooka on the Tradeshift marketplace operator platform has helped us move from concept to reality at speed. We recently announced that MTN, Africa's largest mobile network operator, has become the first large organization to join the marketplace.
Our ambition is to ensure that at least 50% of African corporate, indirect spending goes to suppliers based in Africa. We can see a time when “Just Dooka it!” has become the phrase that every business buyer in Africa associates with the cost-effective purchasing of indirect and tail-spend items.