Nadia Patel Gangjee turned an unfortunate incident in her life into an opportunity. After putting up an ad online wanting to buy a mobile phone, Nadia received numerous prank calls and faced a great deal of harassment. This is when she realised that women needed a safe and secure place to buy, sell and network.
What began as a small WhatsApp group is now Pakistan’s first women-only online marketplace with more than 2,700 female entrepreneurs and 90,000 members.
“In Pakistan, women are expected to stay in their homes and we’re concerned about online harassment and safety,” she says.
Supporting women-owned businesses
In a largely patriarchal society, Nadia is dedicated to empowering women. “There are so many talented women in Pakistan and I really wanted to give them a safe platform through which they can reach out to the market,” she says.
Launched in 2016, Sheops gives women a safe and secure platform to buy and sell fashion, beauty and lifestyle products. This means Sheops is responsible for everything – from vetting the buyer, to handling transactions, and shipping and marketing products – so that sellers can focus on growing their business.
A key element about Sheops is keeping the community curated so that consumers know who they’re buying from and sellers know who they’re selling to.
“In essence, you’re becoming a part of a bigger, close-knitted community which is almost like a family,” says Nadia.
Growing the community
To truly empower women, Nadia is aware that she must grow the community exponentially. To achieve this, she uses a combination of WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram to reach out to audiences.
To establish the Sheops brand and attract members, Nadia set up a business page, and used it to engage the community by showcasing bestselling products on the shop section. As more entrepreneurs signed up, Sheops started using carousel ads to feature more products, with each ad promoting multiple products from different sellers. Sheops also used these ads to increase its website traffic, encouraging people to find out more about the products and then purchase them on the website.
Through Facebook Login, Sheops has ensured that only women can register and shop on the website. This exclusivity helps women feel more comfortable and secure trading amongst themselves.
Sheops also used the Facebook pixel to track its visitors and learn about their behaviour and interests. It’s a factor that will play to the platform’s advantage as it moves towards website conversion ads.
“Ultimately, we’re in the business of empowering women, because when we empower a woman, it’s empowering a family and the broader society.”