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Malaika Gifts & Interiors Leverage IIA SME Capacity Building to Tap New Market Online

Did you know that 66% of consumers are more loyal to the brands they follow on social media!

For Kamaldeep Sandhu, it was an eye-opener to realize that online presence for her business was the ‘go-to-clients booster’ she had been missing.

Kamaldeep is the managing director of Malaika Gifts and Interiors, a Kenya-based start-up that supports artisans to reach their clients. Since its founding in 2012, Malaika Gifts and Interiors has been operating from a physical shop in Nakuru while juggling the provision of marketing space for artisans and small-scale exportation.  

The Covid-19 containment measures and the resulting consumer mindset shift added to the already struggling customer reach for Malaika Gifts and Interiors. Research shows that retail businesses experienced over 65% decline in customer visits during the pandemic. This meant a significant downturn for Malaika Gifts and Interiors, whose primary business is to provide a reliable market for artisans.  

To find a lasting solution to enhance consumer reach, Kamaldeep enrolled in Invest in Africa’s SME Recovery and Resilience program. Under this program, she was assigned a certified Business Coach, who helped her gain skills and understand how to enhance the business’s online presence. She was able to adopt tools like social media, Google my Business, and AdWords. According to her, this has been instrumental in tapping into the online market, increasing her business visibility, and facilitating artisans to reach more clients.  

“The business coaching enabled me to focus on online marketing effectively, and through this, the business has begun to attract more customers,” Kamaldeep said during an interview with Invest in Africa (IIA). She added that more Artisans are now more willing to work with Malaika Gifts and Interiors because of the increased customer reach.  

In addition to the enhanced online presence, Kamaldeep admits that the coaching opened her eyes to thinking innovatively to meet customer needs effectively.

“Through the Coaching, I have established ways to realize the ever-changing customer needs and curate the best products,” she said.

She now understands how to plan business processes and logistics effectively to suit the current customer needs. 

Kamaldeep is among the many entrepreneurs who leveraged the IIA SME Recovery and Resilience program to enable their businesses to survive the impact of the pandemic.  IIA implemented the program in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation to build the capacity of SMEs to recover from the economic downturn. So far, the program has enrolled over 4000 SMEs through virtual masterclasses, peer-to-peer mentorship sessions, and business coaching.   

Invest in Africa is committed to empowering SMEs through enterprise development with diversification to incorporate additional partners and collaborators towards delivering more impact. The aim is to enhance SME access to capacity-building opportunities, finance linkages, and new market streams. Under this drive, IIA recently partnered with Unilever to avail procurement opportunities to marginalized SMEs, including women and youth-owned businesses, via Biashara.Now platform.