Nairobi News


OLX targets mitumba clothes and shoes with new app

By JAMES KARIUKI February 27th, 2017 2 min read

Online advertising site OLX is introducing a revamped mobile app to drive the sale of secondhand clothes and shoes through a platform that introduces interactions between buyers and sellers.

OLX Middle East and Africa head Daan Sanders told the Business Daily that the new app would easily identify locations where the goods are sold and inform the buyer and seller of a commodity a convenient meeting point.

This will create a platform for interaction between the buyer and seller, which is key for selling commodities such as clothes, especially pre-owned fashion products.

OLX is seeking a piece of the second-hand clothes and shoes market,  a vibrant market whose superior quality and originality has struck a chord with the young urban population, creating robust demand.


Most dealers are now selling clothes and shoes via Facebook and WhatsApp.

“Any user of the app has to log in with their Facebook or Twitter accounts, which generates more details on their whereabouts and interactions. We are able to see their locations and plan for one-on-one meetings,” said Mr Sanders.

“This helps enhance security as their individual details will also present us with information of friends they interact with online,” he added.

While sale of used cars, mobile phones, furniture, and electronics have been active on OLX, the firm has struggled with pre-owned fashion products and accessories and now hopes the app will help penetrate the shoes and clothes segment.

The shoes and clothes segment, especially the used accessories, is a huge market.

Although officials did not have total revenue figures, the State statistics agency said imports of used clothes and shoes amounted to nearly 120,000 tonnes worth about $110 million (Sh11 billion) in 2015.

City Hall estimates that about 65,000 people work at Gikomba, Kenya’s largest “mitumba” or second hand market.

In addition, there are a dozen or so smaller markets in Nairobi and other markets around the country, creating more employment.

The informal nature of much of the trade makes it difficult to estimate precise numbers, though researchers and officials suggest it may employ hundreds of thousands.


Banks have spotted an opportunity and since 2007, several have opened branches next to Gikomba to serve the traders.

This is the market that OLX is now eyeing, matching up buyers and sellers digitally for used clothes from British high-street makes like Topman and Next, and sometimes more internationally well-known labels like Levis or Benetton.

“Efficiency of the payment systems in Kenya has been aided by the growth of mobile money. We expect to leverage on this by improving the OLX App and adding more features that will make it possible to even suggest convenient places where buyers and sellers can meet,” said Sanders.