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MzansiStore.com is an online marketplace that gets South African designers and crafters out of their workshops and into the world to sell their products. In enabling this, MzansiStore transforms the world of the crafter and their customer. MzansiStore.com gives them the tools and e-Commerce training they need to make their business a success. They also promote these brands on through social media, their blog, newsletters etc.
Now, through their marketplace, South African designers have an easy and cost effective channel to sell and market their products to international audiences.
Deidré Luzmore is the founder and developer of MzansiStore.com. She is fiercely proud to be a South African and a true local-loving loyal. Deidré started MzansiStore.com after she noticed the need for small scale producers of quality handcrafted products to expand their brand to markets beyond their local street, local community or local crafters market. Her business goal is to increase sales for each of the small businesses that list with Mzansi Store.
“We have over 250 creative small businesses selling over 4000 locally produced items to a global audience. I believe that providing easy access to an international audience, MzansiStore has the capacity to transform lives of many South African handcrafters and designers who would otherwise have no way of reaching a real scalable market.”
MzansiStore launched in Sept 2012 with only 2.5 years of existence and this African-born handmade marketplace was chosen as one of the World Design Capital 2014 Cape Town official projects. WDC2014 designated MzansiStore.com as a “Lifestyle Enhancer” and recognise that MzansiStore.com bridges the gap between technology and creativity for small creative businesses in South Africa.
They have launched 2 Pop-up shops in prominent Cape Town luxury hotels as well as making the Top 30 shortlist for best eCommerce websites in South Africa at 2014 eCommerce Awards.
Recently, MzansiStore and Deidre herself were honored to be asked to participate in a Bay Area program called Tarmac. The Tarmac program is designed specially for international startup founders looking to launch in San Francisco. Only 20 entrepreneurs worldwide were chosen to take part in this pilot programme. Deidre is the only participant from South Africa and we were selected because MzansiStore's social enterprise focus.
There are many exciting things to come for MzansiStore – so be sure to subscribe to their newsletter, get 15% off when you do and experience the beauty in Local Mzansi Handcrafted goods for yourself.
Sable Accelerator interviewed Deidre to find out more:
How were you inspired to start your business?
After working as a GIS specialist for several years in London, my desire was to go back to South Africa and make a difference. I took a sabbatical for three months in Kenya with a Maasai NGO where I noticed first-hand the economic impact of local markets on the community. I completed my Masters and moved back to South Africa with a vision of creating market access for small scale producers. I launched MzansiStore.com in September of 2012 after noticing the need for small scale producers of quality handcrafted products to expand their brand to markets beyond their local street, local community or local crafters market.
What are the biggest hurdles you have faced in starting a business?
Access to markets, funding and logistics
What do you consider to be the biggest challenge for entrepreneurship in the context of South Africa?
Access to markets and scaling
What are your views on the tech ecosystem in South Africa?
There is plenty of information for tech startups in Cape Town but you need to ask. You must be prepared to work hard to make the most of those opportunities
What is your vision for your company in the next 6 months?
Although MzansiStore is growing its customers base domestically there is potential to grow faster and capture the market across South Africa’s diverse population base but also globally. I see the majority of our customers buying on mobile devices.
Deidré Luzmore is the founder and developer of MzansiStore.com. She is fiercely proud to be a South African and a true local-loving loyal. Deidré started MzansiStore.com after she noticed the need for small scale producers of quality handcrafted products to expand their brand to markets beyond their local street, local community or local crafters market. Her only wish is to increase sales for each of the small businesses that list with Mzansi Store.com
Deidré has a M.Sc in Responsible Tourism Management from Leeds Metropolitan University, UK. This course is led by the ICRT - The International Centre for Responsible Tourism now based at Manchester University. Here Prof Harold Goodwin instilled in her the commitment to making a positive social, environment and economic impact on communities. It was from these values that MzansiStore was able to rise and make a difference to the lives of crafters and designers in South Africa.