Helping small businesses access wider markets
Converting my herbal shop into an online store was a new and wonderful experience, aligned with future advancements and the fast-paced world of technology.Yazan, business owner
Yazan Al-Hirsh, a 37-year-old father of two and owner of ‘Herb and Seed’ shop in Ain Al-Basha in Jordan, started his small business with hopes to reach with his products to wider markets outside of his hometown. So has been the case for Yasmine Aisha, a 29-year-old mother of two and owner of ‘Yasmintii’ - a home-based business specializing in flower bouquets – who has been looking for opportunities to grow her business and increase sales even beyond the Jordanian market.
In Jordan, home-based businesses (HBBs) and micro and small enterprises (MSEs) comprise the majority of the country’s businesses and are a major contributor to the economy and to the creation of jobs and livelihoods. However, they have been facing overlapping challenges, such as very competitive market dynamics, limited access to markets, and limited affordable business development services.
Recognizing that these challenges weigh down business owners like Yazan and Yasmine, hindering their economic growth and progress, the USAID Informal Livelihoods Advancement Activity (Iqlaa) launched an e-commerce program to help businesses like Yazan and Yasmine expand their growth and access new markets online while staying just close enough to care for their families.
The program works first on building the digital marketing and e-commerce knowledge and skills of the participants, then creating for them free-of-charge customized online stores so they can effectively sell their products and access markets in the digital realm.
Through the online store and application, managing my marketing and sales has become much easier.Yasmine, business owner
Yazan and Yasmine were two of 102 home-based and small business owners who participated in this program. "Launching my online store Herb and Seed through the Iqlaa e-commerce program allowed me the opportunity to expand my customer base to different governorates, reaching a broader audience. The e-store also allowed me to showcase all my products in one place and exercise better inventory management. The training was invaluable; I gained knowledge on product pricing, online store management, online payment methods, delivery solutions, digital marketing, and even how to take better photos of my products," said Yazan Al-Hirsh.
"Within a few months of launching my online shop, Yasmintii.com, I received increased orders from inside and outside the country, which made a significant difference to my revenue that I have not witnessed since I started my business in 2022. Having an online store provided my business with an official platform that encompasses all my products and conveys credibility, which encourages customers to make purchases,” shared Yasmine.
The online store brought significant changes to Yazan and Yasmin's businesses, offering them organized hubs that store essential customer information such as names, phone numbers, email addresses, residential details, product preferences, and order specifics. This accessibility made it much simpler for them to reconnect with clients and gather valuable feedback, streamlining the overall process.
"Through Iqlaa's support, I received marketing training, which proved highly beneficial. I learned how to have better chances for my store to show in Google search results and how to promote it on my social media pages. This connectivity between various digital platforms enabled me to better market my products, and also track essential information, including the number of online store visits and the products that attract most customers. Monitoring these metrics allowed me to enhance the shopping experience and improve marketing for specific products," added Yasmine.
Within the first two months after launching the e-stores, nearly 50% of the 102 participating businesses successfully sold products and services online. Of those businesses, 60% are women-owned.
In line with its objectives to help home-based, micro and small businesses create competitive advantage and achieve longer-term sustainability, Iqlaa is aiming to enroll 400 more participants in the next round of the e-commerce program to scale up its impact in Jordan.