Directory app for black-owned business lands in SA

South Africans looking to find and connect with black-owned businesses can now do so via the Katika app, with a Web site equivalent launching locally on 30 June.

Katika, derived from the Swahili word meaning “inclusive”, is a two-in-one marketplace and directory app for black-owned businesses.

The app, available for download from the Google Play Store and iOS, was initially launched in the US in November 2018, with subsequent launches in London and SA. It allows users to directly use its search box, instead of Google, to find black-owned businesses, black-owned products and professional services in the black community.

Furthermore, Katika uses geo-location software to find the black-owned businesses near the person doing the search. There is also the option to input other locations. For example, someone in Johannesburg can still search Cape Town or New York City. Searches can also be based on category, rating and most viewed.

Aisha Jackson, CEO of Katika Africa, says there are 28 categories to choose from, ranging from food and drink to professional services, health and medical, as well as agriculture.

“Katika is not only for B2C, but also B2B, use. Once you’ve found a company you are looking for, the customer will be able to find out more information not only about the product, but also the brand or company. There are direct in-app links to the company’s Web site, number and social media pages.

“Customers also have the ability to write reviews and communicate directly with the shops. In fact, at Katika we encourage it, as peer-to-peer review not only gives constructive feedback to the businesses, but it also allows customers to find quality businesses easier.”

Having recently been made available in SA, Katika’s local directory is active, with over 700 businesses mainly in Johannesburg and Cape Town. The marketplace is expected to have more than 20 shops by next month.

To date, the app has amassed 2 000 downloads globally, and 250 from SA, according to Katika.

Jackson says the rationale behind the platform is to support black ownership as the cornerstone of black economic freedom, and Katika aims to be the connector and engine of that Pan-African economy.

“This is about building a global Pan-African economy and black group economics, the active and conscious support of black business by the black community to create a sustainable, independent economy.”

According to Jackson, lowering barriers to entry and being the connector and engine of the Pan-African economy are some of the reasons why Katika is available to the South African market.

“We want to be available in every place in the world that black people have businesses so that it builds a sustainable, independent global economy. It also stimulates black tourism and culture, because then, when you travel, you can still support black-owned businesses and get authentic cultural experiences effortlessly. This helps not only build financial stability, but cultural understanding and black empowerment.

Screenshots of the product and company pages available on the Katika app.
Screenshots of the product and company pages available on the Katika app.

“It was always important for us to build a presence on the continent immediately, and since I… grew up here and have a base, it seemed easier to set up here first.”

Jackson believes there are many similarities between the economic plight of African-Americans and black Africans in SA. “Even though apartheid ended in 1994 and political freedom was gained, the black community is still lagging in economic freedom, mobility and accessibility. Katika allows the black community to easily support each other, improving the communities’ financial power and support.”

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