“The USSD interface offers us endless possibilities”
Martial Nodem, founder of NodCorp and the e-commerce platform buzigo.
What they do
NodCorp created the Cameroonian e-commerce platform buzigo.com and two Web and mobile services: BuziFlash, for P2P commerce of second-hand goods, and JobFlash for freelance jobs.
What they do with us
NodCorp integrated BuziFlash and JobFlash on the Orange #303# My Store to expand access to its services via GSM coverage.
How NodCorp boosts its reach in Cameroon with Orange #303# My Store API
For many people in Cameroon, buying second-hand goods is an obvious and practical way to save money. “But the problem lies in trying to match supply with demand,” explains Martial Nodem, founder of NodCorp and the e-commerce platform buzigo. “Second-hand retail centers are few and far between, and access to information is far from perfect.”
Likewise, many people find it difficult to start a personal business, offer their services for part-time jobs, and/or recruit help.
Martial is remedying this issue by offering two services that attempt to bridge the gap between supply and demand:
- BuziFlash, for peer-to-peer and B2B sales of second-hand goods
- JobFlash, which offers to do the same for freelance jobs
“Unemployment in Cameroon is quite high,” Martial says. “But part-time and/or freelance jobs are very common. Often, it just comes down to connecting the right people!”
With a user base of more than 50 retailers and 450 customers, Martial set his sights on expanding the reach of his services. While Internet access—including via smartphone—is fairly widespread in Cameroon’s larger cities, that is not the case in rural areas.
Martial says that rural areas do, however, enjoy near-universal GSM coverage. “With this in mind, I was looking for a way to make my service more widely available. A friend suggested I look into USSD. It seemed like the perfect solution as an alternative interface for people to interact with our service.”
Martial requested access to the Orange #303# My Store API – the only provider offering USSD integration in the region – to make his services available through the Orange #303# My Store.
The code’s strict structure can prove a bit unwieldy at first, but Martial’s contact at Orange quickly came to his aid. “The Orange France team helped me with how to code for the USSD interface. They also put me in touch with Giftedmom, another local partner who’d integrated the service successfully. After comparing notes with them, things got a lot easier! By the time I ran the final tests with Buziflash, I was able to take care of integrating JobFlash on my own with what I’d learned.”
The hard work paid off – and then some. “We launched the service in early November, and it’s very exciting. The USSD interface offers us endless possibilities – for instance, we can integrate an entire application into the USSD service and enable full interactivity with the user. We’re very happy with this range of capabilities.”
A survey of Nod Corp’s user base showed a high level of interest in a USSD service, and left Martial and his colleagues with high expectations: “Between our users’ enthusiasm and our market projections, we’re looking at a baseline growth of 1,000 extra users a month.”
Martial is also currently working with Orange partner aggregator Digital Virgo to integrate the Middle East & Africa Pay with Orange Bill service, to be able to bill each USSD request – something they do not have the technical capabilities for yet. Here as well, expectations are high, with a projected 75% increase in USSD-based revenues after integration.
What’s next? “We plan on expanding to Ivory Coast and Morocco if all goes well in Cameroon,” Martial says. “Our services were created to address issues that are widespread on the continent, so we know they could be useful anywhere!”
As for other projects, Martial is also the co-founder of the social network Waggstar, where talented individuals advertise themselves and gather fan communities to monetize their activities and earn sponsorship. For an entrepreneur like him, there’s always more than one way to expand people’s opportunities.