Nadia Patel Gangjee; CEO of Sheops has worked really hard in the past few years and as a result has successfully achieved building an amazing Facebook community that benefits thousands of women out there. While talking to Startup Guide Pakistan, she opens up about her vision and the hurdles that she had to face.
When you were setting up the community, what did you have in mind?
Sheops, is a portmanteau word that stands for ‘she shops’ and ‘she operates’. It was a result of a need to create a safe online space for women, due to a personal experience – my cell phone was stolen. In an effort to procure another phone from a peer to peer platform, I was awkwardly harassed. Several women from my close network confessed to having faced similar experiences on such platforms, eventually having to get a male relative to front end the transaction. Their reaction instilled in me a drive to create a safe platform by, of and for women. I initiated a Whatsapp group of female friends and family to buy/sell/swap preloved and unused items. Within a few days we grew to three Whatsapp groups (limit then was 50 members), eventually moving to a Facebook group as that didn’t have a limit.
How long did it take for you to reach this far in terms of the members and audience?
It’s been almost three years since I started the first Whatsapp group, which was then called, ‘The Women’s Marketplace’, now known as ‘Sheops’. Today we are an overall Facebook and web community of about 150,000 women, and the most trusted online marketplace for women in Pakistan, with over 85,000 products listed on Sheops. What role do you believe communities will be playing in the future of marketing? Facebook groups are the next big thing when it comes to social media marketing.
An increasing number of brands are creating their own Facebook groups to have more meaningful and personal conversations with their customers, which is not possible via a public Facebook business page. Also, the big commercial brands are now collaborating with Facebook communities for activations to reach a niche target audience and engage with potential customers. Many Facebook group Admins are now digital influencers followed by thousands.
Did you have a plan of action for the community from the very beginning or did it evolve as it grew?
Initially, when I started out with the Whatsapp group, it was only for friends and family to buy/sell/swap personal items that were preloved or unused. But, once we moved to a Facebook group, the direction become very clear and I realized the need for a proper online marketplace for women, facilitating women entrepreneurs to showcase their products to a wider audience and for home-based women to monetize their talents, increasing digital and financial inclusion of women in Pakistan. Infact, we have been able to connect the Pakistani women diaspora from all over the world through Sheops. Eventually, the bespoke web platform was designed keeping the women entrepreneurs’ needs in perspective.
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