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Former security guard launches blockchain-based marketplace

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Tim Hogins, chairman and CEO of Hogins Enterprises.
Tim Hogins, chairman and CEO of Hogins Enterprises.

Tim Hogins, South African-born former security guard turned serial entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist, has introduced Blacqmarket, an online marketplace targeting Africa’s formal and informal merchant sector.

Growing up in the dusty streets of Randfontein in Gauteng, Hogins is chairman and CEO of Hogins Enterprises, a diverse group of companies. He is considered one of Africa’s emerging business leaders, with interests in recreational lifestyle brands, technology, manufacturing, e-commerce development, real estate and property development, and insurance.

Off the back of celebrating 10 years in business, Hogins says Blacqmarket was introduced to bring together businesses operating in Africa by connecting sellers with buyers, and enabling all transactions to be managed on one platform.

The online marketplace allows SMMEs, individual sellers and established businesses to list their products and services online, includingprofessional service providers such as plumbers, electricians, handymen, etc – helping to increase their access to earning opportunities especially during the current lockdown period.

The shopping platform bills itself as Africa’s first online marketplace built on a blockchain platform, to ensure all transactions are safe and secure.

While currently only available in SA, the broader vision is to make the marketplace available throughout the continent and Hogins is engaging potential partners across Africa who will be instrumental in the e-commerce platform’s African invasion plans.

“The Blacqmarket platform aims to be the solution that will help not only SMMEs but also generate employment through the value chain. We live in unprecedented times, with the constant threat of unemployment, economic downturn and the COVID-19 pandemic weighing heavily on African businesses,” notes Hogins.

“Our business model allows Blacqmarket to bring the possibility of digitising the largely informal sector by bringing them online safely and securely. Everyone is equal on our platform and our low transaction fees allow merchants to pay up to 70% less than other platforms, allowing the shop owners to retain more from purchases made.”

The online marketplace takes split payments on a single item sold and offers free deliveries for parcels 5kg and less – offering a three-day delivery service that covers the whole of SA.

The online platform says it is still in the process of on-boarding more businesses and sellers.

Each listed merchant will have a dedicated shop assistant, who will be an unemployed youth, to assist merchants with the coordination of online orders, while helping to curb youth unemployment.

The blockchain technology, he adds, enables merchants to securely fulfil payment processing, and in future, it will allow them to share and securely store digital assets, while enabling customers to pay using Bitcoin.

“We are finalising the testing of Bitcoin payments to allow buyers to pay via Bitcoin, which has become increasingly popular in SA and across the globe.”

After matriculating in 1996, Hogins couldn’t afford tertiary education and decided to enrol for a free four-week course to become a security guard, securing him a position with a local firm.

Two years into his career as a security guard, Hogins heard about another opportunity − a free programming course teaching COBOL, a backend system used by the financial services industry.

In 2012, he went on to establish GOG, formerly Green Outdoor Gyms, an outdoor health and wellness company.

He is passionate about empowering the young and helping upcoming entrepreneurs to achieve their goals, and through the GOG fund, he helps grow the next leaders in the business world.

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