E-commerce platform, Sokowatch, has today been named in Fast Company’s annual list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies (MIC) for 2021. The platform that supplies and finances mom-and-pop stores across East Africa has an established network of over 18,000 shops across Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Uganda. It serves the neglected informal retail market that sells over $850 billion of basic goods to African consumers every year.
The list honors businesses that have not only found a way to be resilient in the past year, but also turned those challenges into impact-making processes. These companies did more than survive, they thrived—making an impact on their industries and culture as a whole.
This year’s MIC list features 463 businesses from 29 countries. Fast Company’s editors and writers sought out the most groundbreaking businesses across the globe and industries. They also judged nominations received through their application process.
In response to the potential devastating effects of the pandemic, Sokowatch in 2020, launched an e-voucher scheme to support its ecosystem of shop owners and the local communities. The scheme was launched to ensure vulnerable families would have access to essential goods by redeeming sms vouchers at their local shop, maintaining a steady income for the shop during a precarious time. The scheme supported over 10,000 beneficiaries, with participating informal retailers experiencing revenues rise by up to 54%.
In December 2020, the company deployed electric tuk-tuks in Uganda where the air quality is 6x worse than global standards, the first ever commercial deployment of such vehicles in Africa. This is part of the company’s drive to reduce the impact of carbon emissions and foster cleaner and more sustainable environments in the markets it operates.
On receiving the recognition from Fast Company, Global CEO and Founder, Daniel Yu, says: “This recognition is very exciting and we are delighted to be listed as one of the world’s most innovative companies across Europe, Middle East and Africa. It further validates Sokowatch’s efforts to support thriving retailers across the continent and demonstrates the real impact of innovative solutions. At Sokowatch we are always looking at ways to reimagine the status quo to ultimately increase the purchasing power of African communities.”
The World’s Most Innovative Companies is Fast Company’s signature franchise and one of its most highly anticipated editorial efforts of the year. It provides both a snapshot and a road map for the future of innovation across the most dynamic sectors of the economy. “In a year of unprecedented challenges, the companies on this list exhibit fearlessness, ingenuity, and creativity in the face of crisis,” said Fast Company Deputy Editor David Lidsky, who oversaw the issue with Senior Editor Amy Farley.
To coincide with the issue launch, Fast Company will host its first-ever Most Innovative Companies Summit on March 9 and 10. This virtual, multi day summit will celebrate the Most Innovative Companies in business, provide an early look at major business trends, and offer the inspiration and practical insights on what it takes to innovate in 2021.
Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies issue (March/April 2021) is now available online here, as well as in app form via iTunes and on newsstands beginning March 16, 2021. The hashtag is #FCMostInnovative.