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Dhaka Tribune

ShopUp: One-stop solution platform for Facebook entrepreneurs

This platform provides social media based micro-entrepreneurs with a way to sell with better organization and access to affordable financing.

Update : 13 May 2018, 11:57 PM

Facebook, one of the world’s largest social media platforms, has proved a blessing for many entrepreneurs with small businesses. With rising numbers of Internet and smart phone penetration in all areas of day-to-day life, the social media platform has surpassed being limited to only communication and sharing opinions, and become an arena for businesses across the world, including in Bangladesh.

Small businesses and entrepreneurs are currently using Facebook to promote, advertise and sell products, and also reach its preferred customers. But the problem they face is that financial institutions do not want to provide them with loans because most do not meet the eligibility criteria, like office spaces and other required documents.

Enter ShopUp 

ShopUp provides social media based micro-entrepreneurs to sell with better organization and provide access to affordable financing.

ShopUp, a project by Shopfront Limited, has recently secured second position and received a grant of $25,000 from Inclusion Plus, a global competition from Metlife Foundation that awards entrepreneurs for scaling up innovative projects aimed at accelerating financial inclusion in the country.

“ShopUp was formed to help people do their business smoothly on Facebook. It helps Facebook shops with delivery and order management. Currently it is helping Facebook shops get capital loans. We also provide business development support,” ShopUp co-founder and chief operating officer Siffat Sarwar told the Dhaka Tribune.

She also said they are planning to launch a program for Facebook shops with the promise that their businesses will have at least double the sales by the end of the program.

ShopUp - a messenger based cart management system – was launched in 2016, allowing the company to capture day-to-day activities of a Facebook micro-enterprise. It facilitates the purchase of goods via Facebook by installing a catalogue, cart and checkout system on the Facebook page, and providing the basic features of e-commerce directly on Facebook.

The main objective of ShopUp is to help Facebook based entrepreneurs manage their social media presence, grow their digital marketing campaigns, liaise with logistic partners to conduct deliveries, and even help merchants apply for bank loans.

ShopUp algorithm analyzes 25 data points of a micro-enterprise and its owners, and assesses their capital requirement and repayment capacity. The platform then refers these micro-enterprises to partner financial institutions that disburse the loans directly to the merchants. 

When asked why she chose to work in the Facebook business sector, Siffat said the platform’s access to women was one of the key reasons. They can use it to work from home.

“Millions of women in Bangladesh are unable to earn for themselves because of social and family issues. If you start a business on Facebook, you can earn lakhs of taka while changing your child’s diaper! All you need is determination. 

“In my mother’s time, this opportunity was not there. But right now, there are so many opportunities. And what I want to do is make sure I do my part in raising awareness about these opportunities,” she said.

The platform is now providing services to over 13,000 shops that run businesses via social media platforms.

When asked whether competitions help such entrepreneurs to scale up their plans, Siffat said contests like Inclusion Plus help jump-start small businesses that are working to improve our economy. 

“Inclusion plus had a wide range of companies, starting from a startup like ShopUp to industry goliaths like Sajida Foundation. It was great to spend time with fellow startups and established businesses and learn from everyone, including the judges,” she added. 

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