Arifu: WhatsApp chatbot provides tips for micro-retailers

Our programs

A personalized, interactive WhatsApp chatbot provides micro-retailers with practical guidance on digitizing operations and borrowing responsibly

Why this program?

  • Like small businesses around the world, companies across sub-Saharan Africa were hit hard by COVID-19. 
  • Many small businesses faced challenges to go digital, leaving them struggling to serve their customers remotely through waves of restrictions and lockdowns.
  • Beyond issues of access and affordability, lack of relevant digital skills is a major factor in limiting the adoption of digital tools.
  • This program is designed to support small-scale retailers to digitize and build resilience to future economic shocks by offering bite-sized, interactive training content on a range of relevant topics.
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Program overview

Strive Community has partnered with Arifu, a digital content and interactive learning platform, to support micro-retailers in sub-Saharan Africa to digitize their businesses and build resilience to future economic shocks. Arifu offers learners bite-sized, interactive training content on a range of topics, including how to build digital confidence, manage money, secure a business, grow a business, and start a new business.

Content can be accessed by sending a message to WhatsApp +254 701 716962 or Arifu’s WhatsApp Open Marketplace at +254 735 040081, or via SMS by sending the word BIZZ to 22744 within Kenya By leveraging both SMS and WhatsApp channels to deliver content, Arifu meets micro-retailers on the digital channels they are already accustomed to using; the inclusion of the SMS option is particularly important in light of the fact that data constraints deter some users from WhatsApp. This illustrates the importance of both content design and the choice of delivery channels in driving uptake of training programs.

Several design and delivery features will be tested through the program, including: 

  • the best placement of video and audio within WhatsApp learning journeys 
  • optimal message length 
  • the impact of embedded media and visual progress tracking on completion rates
  • the impact of being upfront about the amount of megabytes a course uses on completion rates

This program builds on Arifu’s previous work with the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth that provided 18,000 micro-retailers in Kenya and 20,000 micro-retailers in Nigeria with access to financial and business training content to complement the Jaza Duka digital credit offering. 

Jaza Duka, Swahili for “fill up your store,” enables micro-merchants to access short-term working capital based on historical sales data from Unilever. Merchants use Jaza Duka credit to purchase products from distributors, enabling them to keep their stores better stocked and diversify the products they can stock in their shops. To further support merchants, Arifu rolled out a training program for merchants to encourage responsible use of credit and to build other critical business skills. 

As a result of Arifu’s training, Jaza Duka learners reported larger monthly revenues, greater financial resilience, more extensive usage of formal bookkeeping, and a better understanding of financial concepts.

With Strive Community, Arifu has been able to expand the offering to cover a larger range of relevant topics and improve its content by integrating learnings gained from earlier work. Through additional partnerships to be announced soon, the program will also reach more merchants in more countries across the region. 

About Arifu

Arifu has worked with banks, Mobile Network Operators, and digital platforms to help over 1.5 million individuals and small businesses improve their financial, business, and digital skills.

I had problems stocking my shop before because I lacked the knowledge on how to apply the loans. Through Arifu, I have learned many things.

Francis Kivathi Mahatia

Arifu Learner in Nairobi

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Implementation partners
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