Connecting rural vendors with digital sales

Last Saturday, the Poutasi Women's Committee held their first Market Day and with the extra push of online sales via the Maua App, they managed to collect almost $600 worth of additional sales. 

The Maua App is a mobile app developed by a local technology firm Sky Eye in August 2019,  which is an online buy/sell platform connecting vendors in Samoa with buyers from within the country or overseas. 

The App was made with the hope of bringing benefits and to buyers and sellers through a quick and easy platform and for the women of Poutasi, that translated to $568 worth of sales over two hours at their first market day.

Maua App Director Taimaaiono Saili Kerslake told the Samoa Observer that the Maua App hopes to level the playing field, to elevate the grass roots within communities so that rural and developing businesspeople like farmers and fishermen from rural areas can tap in to other channels to make money during the State of Emergency period. 

“We use the App so that people around the country can see what’s available back here and buy their products online. People can save a lot of money used for bus fares, taxi fares, together with their products when they take them to the local market center in town to sell. 

"The focus is to improve the development mainly mothers and females (Tina ma Tamaitai) in communities and societies in rural areas. We have a payment gateway on the Maua app so that relatives living overseas can pay and order their products for their families here in Samoa like M-tala on Vodafone and My Cash on Digicel,” said Taimaaiono. 

“We have a little fee involved, for example if the product price value  is $10 and our fee is less than 30 cent and that fee is  paid by the buyer, not the seller. It’s a transaction fee that we pay to the Telephone companies and it’s like 2 per cent fee. So the service is free for our people so that they can get benefits from our services,” she added. 

This newspaper also interviewed Village Chief Tuatagaloa Joe Annandale and Tammy Mauala Annandale, both sharing that they felt humbled by what they have seen with the introduction of modern technology. 

There were plenty of sales made by people from different parts of the country, with the Maua app team taking photos of the products and sharing them online. 

The Annandales said it was something new, but it shows the power of technology and its ability to create beautiful and amazingly positive outcomes for communities. 

"It’s a blessing for us, as soon as the Maua App arrived the impact is huge and unbelievable. Now people go back to supply more products to sell as the demand increased so suddenly because of the internet marketing,” said Tammy. 

After the market day, Samoa Sbserver confirmed the total money earned by some members of the Committee. For Lila Nonumaifele who sold samoan chicken (moa samoa) cucumber plants and bananas - she received $345. In her interview, she acknowledged the service provide by the online app. 

For Salaevalu Meleisea, she collected more than $400 from her fish/chicken and chips. Betty Robinson made more than $300 from her bakery selling pies, cakes, muffins and other goodies. 

Another product that sold out quickly was the Honey made by Tammy Tuatagaloa and also the Kapiko (Design Mat) woven by the committee president Mataomanu Meleisea who is now 80 years of age.

Eighty-year-old Mataomanu praised God for the strength, saying that age is no barrier for weaving. She said weaving is a talent from your elders and ancestors and it can never be taken away from you. 

The use of the Maua app was met with some trepidation at first, as the Maua app team said that Samoans were not used to using digital money or storing money in their cellphones. The cash society is the norm although the Maua team are working hard to make more people aware of the service they provide, including the safety of their digital money. 

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