In 2015, two sisters Kesandu and Dumebi Nwokolo, about to return to school in the US wanted traditional wear to take back.
“We didn’t know anyone we could go to,” says Kesandu. “There had to be somebody out there who could make our dresses, but we just didn’t know it then.”
In typical youth-meets-tech mindset, they thought of an application to solve that problem. It was the start of the “Epp” app, a name taken from the colloquialism popular for “help”.
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Both sisters went to working looking for help. Two years later, they launched a working version on the Apple Store and Google Play Store
The “epp” app is a platform for small and medium scale businesses, services, providers and everything and everyone in between to get visibility.
“The Nigerian consumer is selective and decisive. They know what they want and are not afraid to demand it. The Epp application is here to soothe their refined tastes by connecting them with quality and local professionals, products and services that will meet their needs. Consumers and service providers, we are here to bridge the gap”, said the Epp App developers, Kesandu and Dumebi Nwokolo.
Medium and small scale businesses already contribute up to 46% of the country’s gross domestic product but remain almost invisible.
“It is the most important but the most neglected sector,” says Ernest Nwokolo, the girls’ father who’s been holding up their representation while they are away at school in the US.
Epp hopes to encourage every potential to make their talent marketable and visible to the world-and develop multiple income streams.
“It encourages quality service. You don’t have to rent a shop on Ahmadu Bello Way for the world to see you,” says Nwokolo.
“People spend so much time on social media, putting up their faces and none of it contributes anything to them.
“You should be looking for something that moves you to the next level.”
Since its official launch two months ago on online stores, the epp app has been downloaded more than 1,000 times, and up to 400 businesses have already signed up.
The businesses, services, and providers signing up are the “eppers”, who pay a yearly charge of N5,000 to create a business profile, upload photos of their service and talent to their online “shop window” and feed in contacts and details where they can be reached.
The clients looking for a tailor, a home tutor or a mechanic are the “lookers” browsing through shop windows. Looking is free, and once a shop window catches their attention, they can initiate a “transaction”.
Transactions put buyers and sellers together and stay open until both sides are done. Then a client can write a review, which is not editable.
The app developers wanted first impressions to be honest, and transactions transparent. Any later change of heart will require another review at a later date.
“Our vision is to help entrepreneurs, businesses, service providers, youthful but skill-filled impresarios all over the country, find new customers and grow their businesses. You have a skill and you are great at what you do. It’s time to show people what you are made of and grow your business one excellent review at a time,” say the developers.
Kesandu a computer technology graduate who minored in mathematics and is now doing a postgraduate in cyber security has head up in the programming of the epp app.
Her sister, Dumebi, started out with a bachelor’s in biochemical engineering, a postgraduate degree in public health and now off to medical school in the US, but is busier with the marketing end of the app.
Both sisters from Anambra still work together to iron kinks in the backend of the epp app, including upgrades, customer service resolutions and categorizations to streamline better service.
They call the platform “going a step further from word of mouth-one good review at a time.”