If you dream of strolling the streets of Egypt or Morocco for a bargain on an traditional handicraft, you can now enjoy the thrill of the hunt without having to endure the heat.
Online marketplace platforms have started popping up all over the internet to fill various gaps in the market. The overarching objective of the platforms is to allow artisans, artists, designers, and small business owners to showcase and sell their creations to a broader audience regionally and internationally.
Here is a (partial) list of online market place platforms for handicrafts in the Middle East and North Africa.
Founder: Tamer Taha
Model: A hybrid crowdfunding and open innovation platform that combines Indiegogo and OpenIDEO as a one-stop-shop. Yomken (meaning ‘maybe’) allows artisans and artists to pre-sell their creations to the crowd. The craftsmen are also able to enlist challenges that they may be facing while making a new product and invite problem-solvers (the public) to offer innovative technical solutions. Yomken offers both technical consultancy and financial support to help local producers and artisans bring their products to market. Read more about Yomken on Wamda here.
Founders: Kareem El-Shaffei & Mostafa Talaat
Cirqy is an online marketplace for designers and artists with a social twist; aside from selling their own products, it allows artists to promote and share each other’s products with their friends and networks
Founder: Noha El-Shazly
This online marketplace specializes in catering small business owners who’d like to sell their wares online. As a social marketplace, customers are able to like and follow their favorite designers and artists. The site also features a blog section with tips for small business owners to hone their ecommerce skills. Read more Wamda coverage of OpenDayz here.
Bazaar in Egypt (Egypt)
Founder: Mohamed Farouk Riad
This online marketplace targets US consumers who want to buy Egyptian products but might be scared to do their shopping in the country itself due to the political situation. It offers Egyptian souvenirs, ornaments, and gifts of high quality shipped to customers in the West. Read more about Bazaar in Egypt’s story here.
Some of the products Bazaar in Egypt hopes will appeal to a US audience.
Founders: Rania and Zeina Kanaan
An online marketplace that generally falls in line with the rest, this startup differentiates itself by offering support to sellers in terms of logistics, marketing, and distribution.
Tajra (Saudi Arabia)
Founders: Mohammed and Ali Alghamdi
This platform has recently pivoted to focus on local artists and artisans looking to sell their handicrafts to a wider audience. It also offers support to sellers by providing services such as brand management and access to exhibition space. Similar to Cirqy and OpenDayz, Tajra is a social marketplace that facilitates interaction between the sellers and other buyers.
The Anou (Morocco)
Founders: Dan Driscol & Tom Counsell
The Anou, founded by two former Peace Corps volunteers in Morocco allows artisans to post their products on Ebay or Etsy, even if they don’t know how to read, write, or use a computer. The site is wholly dedicated to principles of fair trade (read more of Wamda’s coverage of this site here). The Anou is also aimed largely at a Western audience.