Startup snapshot: Online B2B food marketplace connecting importers and exporters

Ian Sendagala

Ian Sendagala

eFoods Trade is an online African B2B marketplace, launched in June 2017. Uganda-based founder Ian Sendagala (41) answers our questions.

Give us your elevator pitch.

eFoods Trade is an online African B2B food marketplace for importers, exporters and manufacturers. It positions the African food trade business within the global village. Our services include company profiles, product directories, business matching, trade leads and trade alerts.

How did you finance your startup?

I am the previous owner of, a successful international B2B food trade portal that I sold to an American to finance eFoods Trade. Nevertheless, this seed capital didn’t suffice: the numerous investment pitches were futile, and I had to resort to my meagre personal savings and assets to bootstrap.

Today, we are backed by private equity investors, who firmly believed in our dreams. Though again, we are still rocking against some rough tides to keep the boat afloat.

What risks does your business face?

Our biggest risk is the slow adoption of e-commerce in Africa. While there’s a digital revolution sweeping throughout the continent, e-commerce is still not fully embraced.

So far, what has proven to be the most successful form of marketing?

We have successfully leveraged digital platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, as well as other online media channels. This has been supplemented with local offline marketing initiatives such as trade shows, exhibitions, and other cost-effective partnerships and deals.

Describe your most exciting entrepreneurial moment.

I have had some remarkable moments, but I would share with you the day our portal was ranking on the first Google page for “African food importers/exporters”. That was exhilarating. Around the same time, we received our first company profiles on the platform, which was epic.

Tell us about your biggest mistake.

During my initial stages of launching the business, it nearly collapsed because I was a jack of all trades. I was running errands, operations, marketing, etc. Even when I later acquired partners and staff, I couldn’t let go of my “baby”.