Spring 2020 was a tough season for businesses. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, governments brought in restrictions on mass evens, the catering industry, entertainment venues, and stores.
Thousands of businesses closed, many re-launched but never stabilized. Organizations that exist only thanks to grants and funding from exhibitions and other public events suffered the most. These are non-profit foundations, associations, and unions.
These organizations get funding from businesses that are also in trouble because of the total lockdown. Or they receive funds from exhibitions and forums that were also restricted because of COVID-19.
In April 2020 the situation was critical for nonprofits. They started to search for different ways to adapt to the new quarantine regulations. And the most obvious way was to go online—starting an online marketplace.
The goal of these marketplaces was to give entrepreneurs and organization members an opportunity to get revenue to survive the lockdown. Governmental organizations took up the initiative and began to launch marketplaces to support regional economics.
We know that starting a full-scale working marketplace demands investments. Nonprofits don’t have money for this. That’s why we launched a campaign to support nonprofits and governmental organizations—we were giving away the licenses for our marketplace platform CS-Cart Multi-Vendor for free.
The campaign has ended on October 1, 2020. During this period we got 155 requests from organizations. Not all of them were nonprofits and governmental organizations.
We issued 80 licenses for CS-Cart Multi-Vendor to nonprofits, 5 of them were governmental.
30% of all nonprofits that got the license have already launched the marketplace or in the launching phase.
We maintain contact with the organizations we issued the licenses and watch their progress. And when a new marketplace starts, we are glad of it with all heart and we’re happy to know that our product helps make the world a better place.
We’d like to tell you about some projects launched by nonprofits on CS-Cart during the pandemic.
Soko Makueni—a marketplace for Makueni County farmers
The Government of Makueni County in Kenya started a marketplace Soko Makueni to support regional farmers during the pandemic. The marketplace is already live and developing. The Government of Makueni County takes an active part in supporting the project.
Traders and farmers of Makueni County experience difficulties in selling their products directly to the market. This happens because of the middlemen and brokers who took advantage of the lockdown. They resell products to consumers at an inflated price.
“Traders and farmers within Makueni county have experienced difficulties in selling their products due to brokers and other middlemen who have taken advantage of the COVID-19 crisis to exploit them. It has been difficult for them to get real-time market information and sell their products directly to the market. This has led to poor sales by traders, exploitation, and post-harvest losses on fruits and vegetables being spoilt before reaching the market. On the other hand, consumers cannot get basic commodities at fair prices due to the brokers’ exploitation.
Advances in technology need to bridge the gap between the citizen and the marketplace and provide a reliable and efficient medium for the citizens in different areas of the county to access markets.
This system, a technology-based solution, will give the citizens a chance to advertise their products efficiently and conveniently, get real-time information on the market place, inform the citizens of the market price for their goods and allow them to compare and sell to those offering a favorable price.”—says Steve Mbuvi, the representative of the Makueni County Government.
UDM.MARKET—an electronic storefront of Udmurtia
UDM.MARKET — is an online marketplace driven by the Udmurt Center of Export Support and trading house “Made in Udmurtia”. The goal of this marketplace is to push products made in the Udmurt Republic to foreign markets.
UDM.MARKET started in July and gained 86 sellers within 3 months. The marketplace now has 624 products and received first big orders in September. For example, the Republic of Angola buys medical supplies and personal protection equipment on UDM.MARKET.
«UDM.MARKET is here to help entrepreneurs successfully sell their products in Russia and reach foreign markets as well. Our goal, for now, is to be present in 196 countries.
We’d like to note that the marketplace is built on professional eCommerce marketplace software CS-Cart Multi-Vendor. It is much more functional than other multi-vendor platforms out there. For example, sellers in Udmurtia can receive payments from buyers directly on their accounts, which saves time and simplifies paperwork.
All the sellers on our marketplace are from the Udmurt Republic. This is the distinctive feature of UDM.MARKET. To sell here, you need a taxpayer ID issued in Udmurtia. But you can sell any kind of product. Any entrepreneur, manufacturer, or service provider from Udmurtia can become a seller but first, they need to pass our team’s moderation.
A free seller account has all the features to start selling right off: sellers can import products themselves, communicate with buyers directly, and work without middlemen. If a seller doesn’t have their own website or a payment processing system, we can enable global payment processing for them.»—says Denis Dmitriev, CEO of the trading house “Made in Udmurtia”.
County Fair Marketplace by MOFGA
MOFGA stands for Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association. It’s a non-profit based in Unity Maine, that partners with farmers, local communities, and organizations throughout the entire state of Maine and the Northeast United States. MOFGA was formed in 1971 and is the oldest and largest state organic organization in the country. MOFGA is a broad-based community that educates about and advocates for organic agriculture, illuminating its interdependence with a healthy environment, local food production, and thriving communities.
The organization started an online marketplace to host and support their community of local vendors as part of our annual Fair, the Common Ground Country Fair.
Anna Miller, MOFGA Operations Director, shared with us the project details:
«For the past 40 years, the Common Ground Country Fair has been held in person on our education campus attracting 60,000 attendees over the 3-day event; however due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have had to take the difficult decision to cancel the in-person event and are moving this to an online event.
The Fair is an embodiment and celebration of the overall mission of MOFGA, celebrating rural living, community, organics, and education for all. The vendor and craft marketplace is a critical element to the fair, which supports over 700 local vendors, businesses, and craftspeople from our surrounding local community. For many community members, this event provides critical revenue for their small businesses, who are now struggling due to the pandemic.
We’ve identified CS-Cart as an excellent solution that will help us support a multi-vendor marketplace where our vendors can sell and advertise their products and that will provide a seamless experience for those attending the online fair.
Within our support campaign for nonprofits, we were providing the organizations with the licenses for CS-Cart Multi-Vendor, the most feature-rich marketplace platform on the market.
We keep our fingers crossed for every marketplace launched by nonprofits we supported. And we hope that every marketplace will do much good for people and the economics of the regions.