TechnoServe: E-commerce toolkit teaches business owners new ways to grow their online businesses

Our programs

Business owners learn how to grow their online customer base, increase online sales and profits, and boost customer satisfaction to take their budding e-commerce businesses to the next level

Why this program?

  • Selling online became central to many small businesses' strategies during the COVID-19 pandemic, when there were few other sales channels available. The importance of online sales has remained post- pandemic as consumer preferences have shifted. 
  • Many small businesses lack the knowledge and skills to effectively use online sales channels.
  • There is a need for easy-to-understand, actionable knowledge that can guide small businesses on how to improve their online sales.
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Program overview

With support from Strive Community, TechnoServe has created an e-commerce toolkit to guide small businesses on how to sell more effectively online. The content is freely available to any organization wishing to upskill small businesses in their communities; get in touch with us to discuss or see a demo here.

The e-commerce toolkit is intended to be relevant globally and has been designed specifically for ease of adaptation, translation, and localization. In order to optimize for global relevance, the content is based on small business knowledge gaps and learning preferences that are ubiquitous, which were identified through:

  • Interviews with small businesses in Brazil, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Mexico, and Nigeria 
  • Insights from global experts 
  • Reviewing 64 small business training programs around the world 

The curriculum is made up of ten modules covering four key knowledge gap areas identified along the online sales process.

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The content design process was highly iterative, following a human-centered approach that TechnoServe has developed based on the Stanford d.school model for design thinking. The five-step process—empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test—enabled TechnoServe to create content that truly resonates with the needs, availability, and capabilities of micro-business owners. Everything from animation style, characters, voiceover actors, interactivity, pace, and depth of business concepts was prototyped and tested with businesses in multiple countries, and feedback was incorporated into the content. This agile and iterative approach generated many learnings about what works well in digital training for small businesses, resulting in content that is: 

1. Presented in an accessible and engaging way.

Content is available via mobile app, WhatsApp, mobile web, and desktop. Knowledge checks, quizzes, exercises, and exercises encourage active learning. Modules include mixed media, such as text, graphic content, and videos, to make them easily digestible. Two- to three-minute animated videos for each module make the content engaging, convenient, and memorable. 

2. Based on real small business owners’ experiences.

Content uses animated videos (for ease of localization) with characters who are fellow entrepreneurs, rather than instructors. A diversity of business types is represented to enable users to better extrapolate learnings for their own businesses. To make the content relatable, real-life examples and case studies are used

3. Focused on immediately actionable tips.

In recognition of how busy most small business owners are, this content is brief and actionable, focusing on “quick wins”. Templates and tools at the end of each module enable users to immediately apply lessons to their own businesses. During prototyping, this was found to be one of the most useful parts of the course for business owners.

Overall, the content follows a structured learning path with an emphasis on driving behavior change and the adoption of new practices.

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About TechnoServe

Founded in 1968, TechnoServe is a leader in harnessing the power of the private sector to help people lift themselves out of poverty. A nonprofit organization active in 30 countries, it works with people to build a better future through regenerative farms, businesses, and markets that increase incomes. 

In recent years, TechnoServe has used its decades of experience in capacity building to develop digitally delivered programs. Adopting human-centered design (HCD) principles and applying them to solutions that address poverty reduction, TechnoServe sees digital technology as a way to both enhance training and increase the number of entrepreneurs who can participate in its programs. 

During the pandemic so many of us had to change how we do things. For [Strive] to come up with this at this time is really, really commendable, I can't thank you guys enough. Before this training, I would have ideas but I didn't know how to do it—but this course was like "Aha! This is exactly what I need to do, this is how I need to think.

Alexelle

Organic food retailer in Kenya, TechnoServe e-commerce toolkit pilot

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