Digitization Trends & Opportunities in Emerging Markets


Digitization Trends & Opportunities in Emerging Markets

Seedstars Global

FEBRUARY 20, 2023

Entrepreneurs are paving the way for SMEs in emerging markets to have equal access to digital platforms. Two companies in the Seedstars portfolio, Dastgyr and Omnibiz, are making an impact and leading these trends.



In developing economies, small and medium enterprises, or SMEs, make up 90% of businesses and 50% of worldwide employment.

In previous years and continuing today, those businesses have not had equal access to digital resources that larger companies use on a daily basis. Some SMEs are faced with procuring and distributing their products and services all on their own, often having to travel large distances to major cities. Many struggle to stock their shelves with varieties of products, facing high prices from wholesalers.

Seedstars is empowering startups to make change in this area by offering educational resources such as mentorships as well as investment opportunities. Those that want to solve problems in their communities can find support in Seedstars to scale their companies.

Digital B2B platforms give SMEs a unified buying power.

Thanks to today’s generation of bright entrepreneurs, there are digital solutions that increase the buying power of small and medium businesses. If all SMEs in an area are connected to the same platform, they can make purchases in bulk for lower prices.

Companies in the Seedstars portfolio, Dastgyr and OmniBiz, are doing just this: allowing SMEs in Pakistan and Nigeria to compete with larger retailers. Their platforms connect local business owners to the digital resources they need to stay afloat and eventually thrive.

Based in Pakistan, part of Dastgyr’s mission is to decrease travel time for these business owners. With online supplier platforms, they no longer have to travel to wholesalers located in large cities, as negotiation and delivery are taken care of on their app. These SMEs are given more of a voice in the procurement process and do not have to worry about arranging the lowest prices.

SMEs can have better access to working capital, end-to-end data, promotion strategies, and more.

Zohaib Ali, founder of Dastgyr, explained, “We are helping small and medium businesses to grow by connecting them to suppliers and buyers across [Pakistan] right now, also giving them embedded financial solutions like buy now, pay later, and credit.”

Launched during the initial COVID-19 lockdown, Dastgyr has been working to build a digital B2B platform to help Pakistani SMEs grow beyond their local marketplaces, especially in the online distribution space. Ali and the rest of Dastgyr want to capitalize upon the mobile users in Pakistan and show local owners that their phones can also be used to conduct business.

Omnibiz has a similar mission; however, their operation focuses on Africa, specifically Nigeria. Their goal is to assist retailers in developing economies on the distribution side by connecting them to the Omnibiz online platform. Additionally, they help SMEs get access to working capital, point-of-sale (POS) systems, stock-keeping units (SKOs), and transaction history. With better access to suppliers, Omnibiz gives SMEs the opportunity to obtain globally branded products to stock on their shelves.

“The mom-and-pop stores here, the small businesses we are talking about, contribute significantly to the entire trade market. We are talking about more than 90% of the entire trade being done by these traditional, neighborhood retailers as compared to modern trade,” described Deepankar Rustagi, co-founder and CEO of OmniBiz.

With companies like Dastgyr and Omnibiz in the Seedstars portfolio, SMEs have the power to expand and scale their businesses.

If SMEs no longer have to worry about the day-to-day operations of their supply chain, business owners can focus on expanding beyond their localities. By connecting to the Omnibiz or Dastgyr platform, struggling businesses can look beyond surviving and set goals for the future.

Omnibiz helps Nigerian SMEs in this regard by encouraging expansion and new opportunities like e-commerce. When new doors are opened, there is more freedom to build profits and plan for the long-term. Comparably, Dastgyr promotes expansion with their “Just In Time” model, minimizing waste by only having products delivered on an as-needed basis.

These digitization trends have significant environmental and social impacts.

Having local retailers connected to a single platform can increase the amount of items delivered in a single trip, which decreases the number of deliveries, petroleum used, and greenhouse gasses (GHGs) emitted. Zohaib Ali from Dastgyr commented that the company tracks their carbon dioxide emissions and that routes are optimized in accordance with their environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals.

On a social impact level, digital B2B companies that specialize in SMEs empower local businesses to expand, provide equal opportunity to digital trends, and create local jobs in manufacturing, supplying, and distributing. Dastgyr encourages that more women are hired, and OmniBiz focuses on equal access to essential goods. Deepankar Rustagi illustrated that essential goods should be easier to afford in smaller quantities for local retailers to supply to their neighborhoods.

All businesses deserve access to digital and e-commerce platforms.

Small and medium enterprises deserve the same access to digital B2B platforms that large retailers do. These digital platforms provide large benefits, ranging from lower priced goods from wholesalers to lower carbon emissions from decreased travel needs. Thanks to Seedstars, startups like Omnibiz and Dastgyr can have the foundation to make change in emerging markets.

In all, local retailers in emerging markets can thrive in a unified power, as Dastgyr’s Zohaib Ali remarked, “Travel alone, or travel with everybody and go far.”

Want to learn more? Watch the 6 October 2022 Building Bridges Panel with Charlie Graham-Brown from Seedstars here. If you are interested in learning how other startups in the Seedstars portfolio are making change globally, read here.

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