European tech company Saltside Technologies, which previously raised $25m from AB Kinnevik and has been in stealth mode since founding, is already a market leader in classified sites in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Ghana.
Founded by former Skype employees, the company has experienced 300% annual growth since its inception three years ago by providing vital online infrastructure for emerging markets, at a time when the vast majority of people are using the internet for the first time.
Saltside’s current classified sites – Bikroy.com in Bangladesh, Tonaton.com in Ghana, and Ikman.lk in Sri Lanka – are drawing in millions of views a month through low-cost internet access on mobile phones.
“Our mission is to create a safe and efficient marketplace for millions of people to make deals who could not previously access them. We’ve witnessed first-hand how powerful efficient markets are in improving ordinary people’s lives and want to support and foster the naturally entrepreneurial attitude which is prevalent in these markets,” said Nils Hammar, CEO Saltside Technologies.
One example, Wahid Hassan Saif, of Alif Enterprise, uses one of Saltside’s sites to sell imported electric bikes to working middle class residents in Dhaka, who are often frustrated by the huge traffic jams and inaccessible public transport. The young entrepreneur is now using the site to reach every district and every corner of Bangladesh with his bikes.
In Sri Lanka there are multiple case studies of mobile phone dealers who make their living from exclusively trading on ikman.lk. One user, a university student in Colombo, is now able to finance his higher education by moving his mobile phone business onto ikman.lk to open it up to buyers from across the country.
In Ghana, Tonaton.com enables local fashion designers to expand their businesses, giving them a bigger platform to showcase their craft to Ghana’s growing middle class.
“The combined value of online advertising in Africa and The Middle East is expected to reach $2.8 billion by 2016, and in Asia that figure is expected to hit $53.2 billion by 2016. Yet, far too many countries in these incredibly dynamic markets are overlooked,” added Hammar.