Zood: Building the Silk Road 2.0
The Uzbekistan-based, Swiss-born company is reviving old trade routes’ vivacity through tech.
E-commerce is still very much growing throughout the world. Total e-commerce sales are expected to reach $8.6 trillion in 2026, according to Insider Intelligence. While crowded and ferociously competitive in the West, e-commerce is still embryonic in other corners of the globe. In those places, low financial inclusion, the absence of consumer credit, poor logistics infrastructure, and incomplete digitalization stunt e-commerce’s ascent.
Instead of waiting for optimal circumstances, some entrepreneurs are tackling the problem differently: painstakingly launching e-commerce platforms in “non-ready” markets while, in tandem, building the tools to use them.
Careem, a MENA-based ride-hailing app exemplifies such a strategy. Instead of waiting for the region to adopt digital payments, Careem launched its ride-hailing service by enabling users to pay for rides in cash. After gaining traction, Careem started offering users a suite of digital financial services, such as P2P transfers or digital bill payments. Those new financial products were easier to offer to an already onboarded user base, previously lured by the simplicity of the cash payment option.