Facebook has been known for crazy posts, naked pics, gossip, etc but on the positive side it can help you keep in touch with loved ones by writing on their walls, sending messages in inbox, and sharing pictures.
An interesting use of Facebook is as a virtual market place, as did the Let’s Talk Ama Sampo group. With over 55,000 members, you can buy and sell almost anything there. All it takes is a post on the wall with pictures of what you’re selling or a post asking for what you want. Negotiations are even welcome there depending on the trader you’re working with.
I talked to Siddarth Parmar, one the individuals behind it, about the group in detail. Here’s our exchange:
1. How and when did Ama Sampo start?
Ama Sampo started out of the need for clients off campus life for Julila Gondwe from UNZA. The group platform on Facebook was created on 1st May 2011 and was intended to capitalize on Zambian Facebookers by creating a peer 2 peer (P2P) online marketplace.
2. Who started it?
Julila Nathan Gondwe and then it was later co-founded by Siddharth Parmar.
3. Why did you choose Facebook? How did you market it?
We used Facebook because of the power of that social media platform as proven all over the globe. It has largest numbers than all the other forms of social media with the social aspect of interaction and business is usually highly pronounced.
4. Any challenges so far with the Let’s Talk Ama Sampo page?
We experience mistrust from new members especially relating to the issue of e-commerce of which they may have a lack of knowledge. There’s also the issue of cyber-crimes where remote money thefts may take place, and no real government would fund innovations of this caliber.
5. Benefits of using Facebook as your platform?
Well, social media is viral, allowing rapid expansion with real time efficiency. We also developed a high level of brand loyalty from older members which has allowed for more profits through more sales done on the page.
Ama Sampo, has continued to develop and innovate people through it’s various sales channels and has become one of the market leaders for e-commerce in Zambia. We also embrace and support entrepreneurship up to higher and more fulfilling levels.
6. Do you get any money off the page?
We make commissions from sales of goods and services that are conducted through our shop on Cha Cha Cha Road, we call it the ‘Trading Post’. We also do social media advertising for other companies through our various sales channels and sister company GeekSQUAD (Z). We do email and offline advertising and have recently developed massive mailing lists that are very targeted.
7. Any cases of theft or deals-gone-bad? Do you have a disclaimer?
Yes there is a disclaimer. Buyers and Sellers and traders do it at their own risk and convenience unless they do a deal from the ’Trading Post’ in Lusaka . We are not liable as we only act as a conduit. Incase of any doubts on who they are dealing with, we can support our members by letting them use the ‘Trading Post’ premises for their transactions.
8. Do you have any special deals for regular members?
Regular clients are given ’loyalty’ deals and we are in the process of launching a ‘deal of the day’ service.
9. What’s the way forward? Is any other social platform you want to expand to? Any plans for a website?
Ama Sampo now is expanding drastically and will be launching website before end of May 2014 to commemorate 3 years and soon after an app for all mobile device platforms which includes Android, Windows Mobile, Blackberry and iOS for sheer convenience to make e-commerce work for Zambia. This is going to change the dynamics of the commerce in Zambia.
10. What do you hope Ama Sampo to become in next year?
In a year we aspire to be THE company that everyone will want to associate with. We are always supporting the youth and young entrepreneurs, and will continue to break the norm in terms of commerce. We aim to be regionally present and very dynamic with creativity and innovation at our roots in Zambia.
Well, there you have it. Ama Sampo has really made a mark on Facebook, looking at it’s following. I personally managed to safely sell my old phone on the page within a few hours. So does it really work? Yes it does, because people are always in need of something and you may provide a solution.