Daraz continues to support SMEs for local economic growth

Thursday, 15 July 2021 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) play a vital role in the socio-economic development of Sri Lanka. The expansion of SMEs is constrained by issues inclusive of access to finance, technological prowess, access to markets and many more. 

Forcing thousands of SMEs across the country to close their doors and quarantine, the pandemic resulted in the loss of investment and business and SMEs continue to struggle to find their footing as they attempt to adapt to the new norm. While the online sphere is booming, SMEs lack the capital to set up their own online platforms. 

The key to overcoming these challenges lies in online marketplaces such as Daraz. Being the largest online marketplace to operate in Sri Lanka, the company has gone the extra mile to support SMEs. With over 50,000 SMEs currently active on Daraz, the seller base has increased by 150% from 20,000 sellers in 2019. 

Daraz has engaged in a series of projects aimed at empowering SMEs inclusive of partnering with the Department of Samurdhi Development. Through this partnership, Daraz aimed at enhancing the economic engagement and success of entrepreneurs in rural Sri Lanka. Over 500 entrepreneurs were trained via the Samurdhi program, initiated into the world of digital commerce, explored the benefits and opportunities available for their products and were facilitated access to over 1.5 million customers. 

By providing them with a means of showcasing their products, selling them effectively and facilitating their engagement in projects that will amplify their businesses by connecting them directly to consumers nationwide, Daraz is uplifting these entrepreneurs and inspiring the community, ensuring that no potential seller is limited by where they are located.

In the spirit of empowering Sri Lanka, Daraz believes in empowering women entrepreneurs and therefore has facilitated free training, free product photoshoots and free packaging materials to increase their earnings. By encouraging their trading online, Daraz gives them the exposure of being a part of a nearly one-million strong product base and visited online by nearly 250,000 people every day.  

Daraz also initiated their seller stimulus program under the theme of ‘Eksathwa Shakthimathwa’ during the early stages of COVID-19, drawing from the need to stand together during these troubled times. The seller stimulus program offered SMEs financial and business incentives as well as marketing. This unique program helped to navigate selling online in Sri Lanka and facilitated the start-up of SMEs locally. 

The platform invited local sellers to bring their businesses online where Daraz provided a subsidy worth 30 million rupees. Daraz did not charge any sales commission from sellers for a period of two months and in order to help these sellers with their cash flow, Daraz expedited the payment process to ensure that all sellers receive their sales income within a few days. 

Furthermore, all sellers receive free access to Daraz University, which is the training portal on Daraz, where they can undergo swift training on important aspects of selling online. This helps them to further boost their sales. On top of these incentives, Daraz also decided to absorb some of the packaging costs for sellers, reducing yet another expense for them in the short term.

Daraz, as the leading e-commerce platform in South Asia, also announced a series of Seller Promises inclusive of simplifying the sign-up process to allow new sellers to start selling within 24 hours, paying sellers twice as fast by reducing the payment cycle from 14 days to 7 days, promising to respond to seller enquiries on live chat within 30 seconds during business hours to ensure instant support, providing specific support to help identify the business gaps for SMEs that are not performing at their best and streamlining the claims process to increase convenience for Sellers to file claims when needed. 

These seller promises were initiated by Daraz with the aim of empowering entrepreneurs across the region through its technology, logistics and business infrastructure. A testament to the brand’s commitment towards its sellers and ecosystem, Daraz has gone above and beyond to enable an ease of business and encourage sellers to shift to e-commerce.

Furthermore, Daraz developed the Ceylon market with the aim of supporting SMEs and local manufacturers. The products showcased via the Ceylon market are 100% produced in Sri Lanka and handmade. With products ranging from clothes to shoes to furniture to herbal remedies, this platform has something for everyone and highlights local entrepreneurs.

Daraz Managing Director Rakhil Fernando said, “Sri Lanka’s SME sector with over 500,000 strong SMEs, contributes around 52% of the GDP. This is a sector of much significance. As traditional channels pose a challenge currently, digital channels are on the rise. At Daraz, we believe innovation can come out of a crisis, and as the largest online marketplace in Sri Lanka, it is our responsibility to lead this change for the SMEs. While the adoption of online channels has steadily increased since the onset of the pandemic, many SMEs do not have the ability to make this shift effectively as it involves many new processes and systems. 

“Daraz is able to offer sellers the ability to sell online at scale to millions of consumers nationwide, providing them with the necessary education, training and assistance where required. Our priority is to strengthen our local economy, bridging the gap caused by digital accessibility and understanding.” 

Recognising the presence of untapped talent in every corner of Sri Lanka, Daraz is facilitating the entrepreneurial skills of individuals across the island. By providing them with the largest online marketplace in Sri Lanka as a platform via which they can showcase their products, Daraz provides a foundation upon which SMEs might develop their enterprises.