Case study

The first luxury ecommerce marketplace in West Africa

2020 - 2024

Technology Consulting

MVP Commerce development


It may be easy to find a pair of Nikes for sale where you live – but have you ever considered how hard it might be to buy original Nike shoes in a place like West Africa? For many major, global brands, Africa remains a vastly underserved market.

Even in countries with rapidly growing middle classes, such as Senegal, high-quality products are often scarce on the local market. People that live in these countries or regions are heavily dependent on family or friends living in the United States, who can send them products that would otherwise be unavailable.

But this is hardly an efficient system. It puts an even greater strain on existing logistics chains; first, you need to buy the product from an e-commerce store in the US, and then you have to ship it to your friend or family member living across the ocean in Africa. The sender then needs to ship their package to a specialized company that in turn ships containers to Dakar. The products are then placed inside special barrels that are transported across the ocean by a cargo ship. Usually, it takes about a month from your original, U.S.-based purchase for your item to arrive, packed, in Dakar. And its journey still isn’t finished, because it then has to travel to the port in Dakar, where it will be dealt with by customs and before it's picked up by local freight transport. That’s a lot of hassle just for a pair of shoes!

And as complicated as this whole process is, every week, millions of people in underserved areas access products in exactly this way.

The founders of Yoonema are of Senegalese origin, though they currently live in the U.S. They’re plenty familiar with this process, as they’ve helped their own families back in Senegal multiple times.

Yoonema’s founders realized there was a wide-open market opportunity to provide a smoother experience for customers. So, they built a logistics chain for on-demand sourcing and shipping luxury products to Senegal, which allows customers in Senegal to have peace of mind about the predictability of the whole process.

Pricing is also an important part of the equation. Since delivery costs of this complex, multi-legged process are high, one of Yoonema’s main goals is to make sure that the customer gets the best possible base prices for their items. For that reason, the platform automatically imports current product prices from e-commerce source websites, so that any deals and promotions can be immediately taken advantage of. For transparency’s sake, customers can see detailed price breakdowns before buying their products.


In numbers


Upside was responsible for the architecture and development of Yoonema’s Spree commerce solution, which supports many customization options and is highly flexible, allowing it to meet all logistics, product display, and price-fetching requirements.

Breakdown of our work

  • Automatic product imports
  • Integrations with third-party shipping providers
  • Implementation of tools supporting multiple-legged delivery processes
  • Support for payment processors specific to the West African region (e.g., Orange Money)
  • Implementation of processes supporting the handling of cash payments
  • Tools for supporting e-commerce managers curating of product catalogs
  • Implementation of a model for automatic price calculations
  • Support in overall reliability and maintenance of the platform

Technologies we used

Ruby on rails
Amazon Web Services


After a year of close collaboration with Upside, we couldn't be more satisfied with their professionalism and the quality of their service. Upside provided us a real boutique experience, as they tailored their offer to our needs, scaling accordingly to our challenges. What we enjoyed the most was their ability to internalize our vision and be proactive in their advice and assessments. Building our e-commerce platform and having worked for some of the most prominent technology companies in the world, we knew we wanted a partner that could match our speed. We found in Upside that partner. Our platform is live, growing exponentially and gaining a lot of traction in our target demographic.
Jonathan Gall, Product Manager at Yoonema

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