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Ethiopia’s version of Amazon in the making
Gemechu Waktola (PhD)

Ethiopia’s version of Amazon in the making

A group of Ethiopian scholars established an online shopping plat form dubbed Dumbulo Shopping Solutions.

Four IT experts and management consultants established the company that provides online shopping solutions on www.dembulo.com. Dumbulo Shopping Solutions is a sister company of I-Capital Africa – a company engaged in finance and management consulting services.

Dumbulo Shopping Solutions has entered into agreements with local vendors that provide a range of local and imported goods. Customers can buy food items, cosmetics, office and home appliances and a range of other products and get them delivered to their homes.

Gemechu Waktola (PhD), business development manager, Dumbulo Shopping Solutions, told The Reporter that the new company has integrated its payment system with the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia’s CBE Birr online payment system. “Customers can login to our website www.dumbulo.com search for the products they need and pay online using CBE Birr,” Gemechu said. The company is trying to increase its payment options which is now limited to only CBE Birr.

Dumbulo Shopping Solutions has signed an agreement with the Ethiopian Postal Services to provide door to door delivery service. “After customers buy the products online they have two choices. One we can deliver the goods any location they want in Addis Ababa within 48 hours. Or after they buy the goods they can order for self-pick up. They can collect their parcels from the shopping center themselves,” he said.

So far, Shoa Supermarket is the only vendor that entered into agreement with Dumbulo and availing its list of products on the website. However, Gemechu said the company is dealing with four or five vendors. “We want only reputable vendors that supply quality products. We do not want our customers to buy inferior quality products. We want only trusted manufacturers and suppliers,” Gemechu said.

He stated that Dumbulo is working with Dashen Bank to provide more payment options. “We are also talking to other banks. The problem we have is most banks did not have a payment system that supports e commerce. It was only CBE that had the online payment system,” he added.  

Dumbulo Shopping Solutions charges a same rate to deliver parcel weighing 0-5 kg anywhere in the capital Addis Ababa. The delivery service charge increases slightly based on the weight of the parcel. The distance does not matter in Addis Ababa. “We are working to expand our service to regional towns. But the delivery service charge will be higher in the regions,” Gemechu said.

According to Gemechu, e-commerce will thrive in Ethiopia in the coming years. “With the greater internet access and as the youth is obsessed with mobile phones it will be much easier to trade online. There is also lifestyle change in the urban areas. City dwellers are now too busy to physically go to shopping centres to buy goods,” he said.  

It has been two month since Dumbulo Shopping Solutions launched its service as a pilot project. “Response from the public is very good. Many people have registered on our website. But the problem is that some of them are have not subscribed for CBE Birr and they face a challenge to effect payment,” Gemechu said.

Gemechu, assistant professor at the Addis Ababa University Business School, is the founder of I-Capital Africa – the organizer of the annual East African Finance and Cement summits.