Nyom planet is a digitally enhanced wedding planning business in Uganda. It has provided a platform (website) that links wedding service providers to couples intending to wed.
Currently over 80% of service providers provide catering services, baking services (cakes), hairdressing, venue hire, transport and hotel services to intending couples. The idea is that couples planning to wed will visit the site to browse through different service providers and the costs of their services. When satisfied, they either contact them directly or use us (Nyom planet) as intermediates or even ask us to plan their wedding. The website has a number of high-end service providers but 65% are SMES (generally informal) who usually join the site by word of mouth.
During this COVID-19 pandemic (lockdown) period, we have discovered that customers have been increasingly using service providers not for wedding services but for meeting their essential and other needs. For example, it became increasingly evident that customers were contacting our sound and music providers for music selections, bakers were being contacted to either deliver cake or receive recipes for different confectionery. The hairdressers were being contacted on how to take care of hair in this period and so on.
We have therefore thought it wise to open up this platform to SMES in different service businesses to be able to reach their customers. COVID-19 lockdown has proved that it’s going to be increasingly important to have specific service providers that a customer can trust to provide them the needed but also personalized quality services.
On the other hand, it’s also becoming evident that government is pushing towards import substitution so as to boost local production. In addition, businesses will need to get out of their premises and get on to the streets because there are no guarantees anymore (after COVID-19 lockdowns) that the customers will walk into the shops or offices the same way they did before. And because most of our service providers are generally informal, this platform will provide a way for them not only to market their products and increase their visibility but to access clients that could ideally not find them on their own.
We also believe that this platform will kickstart most of their journeys to formalizing businesses and accessing the necessary support to further grow their businesses towards resilience.
We currently only have a website and social media handles but were, at the point of lockdown in our country, having discussions on what the core elements for an application linked to this platform would look like.
Eventually mobile money payments which are much widespread in this part of the world will be made a part of the application allowing the informal sector into the formal economy or at least bringing them closer.