Botswana Tech Startup Launches Digital Marketplace For SMEs

A new Botswana-based tech startup, Ponatshego, has launched a platform that aims to assist African SMEs in transitioning to an online marketplace. In turn, SMEs are able to sell their products online, allowing a wider customer reach and an increase in overall sales and profits. Botswana startup launches digital marketplace platform

Digital transformation for SMEs

Founded in July 2020, Ponatshego falls under the umbrella of Essential to Survival, a company owned by African entrepreneurs, Motshidisi Joseph Ngaiti and William George Whittle.

Ponatshego’s mission is to offer a platform that makes it easy for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to transition to an online marketplace.

There are competing platforms in Botswana, however, the self-funded Ponatshego has been able to secure adequate market share, pushing them ahead of the competition. 

The hope is for businesses in Botswana and around Africa to shift to online markets and attracting new customers. 

Easy-to-use platform

Ponatshego’s online platform is easy to use for SME owners and ensures a quick and responsive user experience. In addition, customers can view video clips on how to best use the products advertised, enhancing customer experience, and promoting SMEs branding and product. 


In an interview with Ventureburn, Motshidisi Ngaiti, co-founder of Essential to survival, the company that owns Ponatshego, explains that the platform was created to foster and encourage interaction with users. 

“We made sure our website is always quick, responsive, and easy to use, as Ecommerce is a fairly new concept to southern Africa customers, who are still getting to trust and believe in it. Only a truly pleasant experience will get them buying products online. We made sure to include a live chat on our platform to answer all our customer’s questions or inquiries in real-time, as we believe this to be one of the core needs of our customers. We believe our platform serves more value based on the number of people it serves which is why we worked very hard to make sure different parties are able to benefit from our platform”

How to register as an SME

In an effort to fully transition an SME into the online marketplace, each applicant (SME) must undergo a one-week training programme offered by Ponatshego. 

Botswana | History - Geography | Britannica

Once completed and vetted by the tech startup, SMEs are able to sell their products on the digital platform. 

The affiliate marketing program allows for any individual with an Instagram account to register on the platform and earn commissions via the image-sharing social media platform referrals. 

Ponatshego will provide a specific link that gives individuals the capability to track how much traffic they have directed to the platform as well as how much commission they will receive.

Challenges faced by African businesses

Ngaiti explains the new innovative platform aims to assist SMEs in transitioning to an eCommerce space, given that since the Covid-19 pandemic, the online marketplace has become essential to the survival of a business. 

“The main aim of our platform is to help our fellow African businessmen and women get their products to the final consumer, as this is the challenge we saw most Africans face. The costs that come with building a brick and mortar business, the skills that are necessary to build their own eCommerce platform, and still having to worry about the ability to make a sale online, are burdens from our fellow Africans. We allow for business to be done on our platform without any barrier, that is why our platform also allows for payments to be made in multiple currencies.”

Opportunities for all 

The affiliate marketing program was put into place with the understanding that not every individual has a product to offer. Due to the unemployment rate in Africa, Ponatshego developed this program for people to earn money from creating posts on Instagram and receiving commission for it from their platform. 

Ngaiti explains that Ponatshego is different from the rest, offering a customer-centric experience.

“We believe this to be a brilliant offering, as well as different vendors being given an opportunity to showcase their products on a platform that allows them to fully showcase all angles of their products through responsive videos, resulting in better appreciation from the final consumer.”

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