Field buzz, the Dhaka-based technology startup that develops smartphone-based last-mile sales and distribution management solutions, has been selected for the 2nd cohort of GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator Innovation Fund. As part of the program, Field Buzz will receive equity-free grant funding, technical assistance, and the opportunity to partner with mobile operators in Dhaka to scale its products and services and build a sustainable business. Field Buzz is the first Bangladeshi startup to receive the fund.
This year 15 startups - 8 startups from African region, 01 from Bangladesh, 01 from Pakistan, 02 from Nepal, 02 from Indonesia, and 01 from Myanmar - have received the innovation fund.
Founded in 2015, Field Buzz is a software system that uses smartphones to help organizations manage their remote or dispersed operations. Field Buzz is flexible enough to be used for most typical “field worker” activities such as registering customers or beneficiaries, tracking which products or services have been delivered where and to whom, tracking payments and credits, conducting surveys and evaluations/inspections, etc.
The company also helps its client customize the system to their specific needs. Over the past years, the company has experienced a significant growth in multiple markets.
With the backing from Innovation Fund, Field Buzz aims to turn its existing product into a subscription product for SMEs in Bangladesh. From Field Buzz blog:
“Field Buzz has joined the GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator Innovation Fund portfolio to turn our last-mile sales and distribution solution into a Software-as-a-Service subscription model. We will adapt our current software platform, which currently involves bespoke customizations for each new client, to a more standardized offering for SMEs in the sales and distribution sector of Bangladesh.
Companies using this version of the software will be able to configure some aspects of the software to fit their needs, will upload and manage their own product and price lists and other master data in the system, and will pay a per-user monthly fee: the “software-as-a-service” approach.”
In its announcement, GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator points out that “in Bangladesh, traditional retail outlets — mudir dokan — are ubiquitous, with more than 90 percent of the middle class using them to buy groceries regularly. These networks of shops employ millions of workers but are often operated in an informal, inefficient and non-transparent manner. This creates many systemic issues around cash collection, deliveries, inventory management and others. Consequently, these microentrepreneurs cannot grow their businesses efficiently.”
The expectation is that through the support from GSMA Innovation Fund Field Buzz will develop solutions that will eventually help these SMEs to be more efficient. As Field Buzz puts on its blog post, “there are an estimated one million small grocery stores in Bangladesh alone, often under-served by their distributors, bringing innovation and ICT to this sector has a large potential impact for efficiency gains, economic growth and employment opportunities among low-income households.”
GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator launched Innovation Fund in July 2016, offering between US$139,650 and US$349,000 in equity-free funding to startups leveraging mobile technology to achieve socio-economic impact in their local markets in Africa and the Asia Pacific. The fund was first offered in 2017 to nine startups, mostly to startups from African regions, seven out of nine startups were from the African region.
This year the innovation has added 15 startups from Africa and Asia Pacific regions, making the total number of startups 24. The selected startups receive equity-free grant funding, technical assistance, and the opportunity to partner with mobile operators in their markets to scale their products and services and build sustainable businesses.
The Ecosystem Accelerator programme is supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Australian Government, the GSMA and its members.
1. Further reading on Field Buzz and its business here.
2. Further reading on GSMA Ecosystem Accelerator Innovation Fund here.
3. Cover photo courtesy here.