Sylvester Bett scans his flashing phone screen. As the little gadget gets to life, numbers instantly update, giving the precise offers he has received for cattle placed on auction at an online market.
“This shows you everything you need to know and how much money you are going to make,” says the farmer from Chepngetuny Sub-location in Nandi East Sub-county.
Bett is demonstrating he has been selling his cattle on Olx and earning more than double what the open-market offers per head. He is not the only one. Olx Country Manager Peter Ndiang’ui says at least two million people visit the online market every month, and over 28 per cent of shoppers in Kenya now consider shopping online.
These statistics have proved compelling for farmers like Bett. For close to three years now, Bett, a mixed farmer, has been using the online forum to target buyers for his livestock and eliminate brokers to maximise profit.
Bett is now selling more animals and while at it incurring lesser overhead costs. “I once sold a cow at Sh120,000, which is very good income. Currently, the price of one ranges between Sh80,000 and Sh120,000,” says Bett.
He says the biggest advantage of Olx is that it eliminates brokers who take advantage of desperate farmers in open-air markets to demand hefty cuts.
“Previously, it was difficult to sell because brokers demanded part of the proceeds; which greatly reduced our profits. But the internet revolution has made it easy for livestock farmers to reap more from the sale of their livestock.”
Mr Ndiang’ui says online market forums like Olx improve people’s lives by bringing them together for win-win exchanges like in Bett’s case.
“We are the deal makers or facilitators, so in a sense we provide a forum where everybody wins,” he says.
Electronic devices, cars and real estate comprise the highest composition of items being traded on Olx. On a daily basis, people trade a variety of items and over 60 per cent of these items get a response within the first five days of placement.
Everyday, over 300 cars are listed on OLx. We also record more than 50 livestock and 1,000 electronic devices.
Bett, who doubles up as an assistant chief, stumbled on the trade accidentally as he sought ways of paying school fees for his three children who had joined different universities.
The only option he had of making quick cash was to dispose some of his cattle. His techie son, 11-year-old Edmond Kiprotich suggested that he try selling on Olx.
“After seeing an advertisement on TV and considering my son’s suggestion, I decided to place an advert on Olx using my mobile phone,” says Bett.
The response was swift and the father of five started getting calls from interested buyers. The calls were varied, with some coming from as far as Busia, Chemelil and Kisumu.
“I did not know the transaction would be that quick. I was surprised at its efficiency, but I also got ideas. It is something I can do regularly to make money, so I started to sell livestock on Olx,” says Bett.
Customers do not pay a fee to use the website, a fact Bett says should encourage others to join in the trade and earn more.
“There are two kinds of farmers,” says Mr Sospeter Magelo, who has also sold some of his cows through the online platform. “The kind who will utilise technology and the kind who will simply not. The young ones using Facebook and other social media will jump on this bandwagon. Selling online is a good option for farmers and buyers looking for a convenient way of doing business.”
The technology is similar to Facebook. The farmer or anyone selling sets up an account on the site and then posts what is available for sale. They then arrange a time and place for delivery.
Magelo is optimistic. He just signed up with Olx. “It is a marvelous idea. I hope it becomes more recognised among consumers as a way to acquire real quality products and support the economy.”
Bett advises fellow farmers to embrace the Internet revolution to make money faster.
“When you use Olx you receive all your cash without giving away some to brokers. It is also a safe way of saving your goods and money so farmers should learn to trade their goods safely,” says Bett.