The past few articles I’ve written for Nicaragua Dispatch have covered both the struggles of entrepreneurship and the ongoing crusade of e-commerce in Nicaragua. Neither endeavor is easy, but both are incredibly worth it. The responses to those articles have been incredible, both in the blogosphere and in person.
I’m happy to report that, since my last post outlining the frustrations and obstacles faced by small businesses that want to get into the world of e-commerce, I have achieved a few wins for my company and for other small businesses in Nicaragua. Let me tell you how.
1. Sharing makes you helpable.
About a week ago, a group of e-commerce pioneers got together for an informal sharing session over coffees and business introductions. Crammed into a small space in Casa del Café, some individuals shared success stories, while others shared their struggles and failures. Best practices and warnings were exchanged, all in the hopes of helping others decipher the wild world of Nicaraguan online payments.
If I hadn’t shared my company’s struggles here on Nicaragua Dispatch, I’m not sure if that meeting would have taken place. If I hadn’t shared the problems that we’ve faced in the last few months, I’m not sure that we’d have the new clients and small successes we have achieved thus far.
I hope the same goes for those that participated in the blog comments. I hope the same goes for those that attended that night at Casa del Café. (If you’d like to join our next gathering, let me know here.)
2. A long shot doesn’t mean impossible
You know how you aren’t supposed to cold-call general managers and ramble on for 10 minutes about how much you need their help?
Well, I did that. And it worked.
After a few coffees and some reflection on how I important I felt the e-commerce issue truly is, I bit the bullet and called up Credomatic’s head honcho. He was surprisingly helpful. We held a meeting and had a great conversation about what can be done to better the situation for other small businesses and how to ensure better fraud security within the country.
It was a bit nerve-wracking for me, but I found Credomatic’s staff to be more entertained by my e-commerce talk than I thought. I can ramble for a while if I’m passionate about the topic, but this time it worked wonders.
Let’s be clear: setting up Karawala’s e-commerce solution isn’t the end of it. While the e-commerce issue is not solved for all small businesses in Nicaragua, I’m going to be working with Credomatic to start trying to resolve the issue on a more systematic level. The idea is to keep trying to find ways to propagate e-commerce solutions to other businesses throughout Nicaragua. It has to be shareable, accessible, and scalable — for all levels of business.
3. A little faith goes a long way.
Looking back on the entire experience, there are more stresses than there probably needed to be.
In my most stressful moments, a solution always seemed to slip further from grasp. Every possible thing that could go wrong did, and the tentacles of desperation spread further out into the team.
We had to defer to faith.
As my team at Marca Labs strung together the online payments systems that we could muster, I decided to change my mindset to one of: “What the heck, let’s start believing things will work out.” And work out they did.
We continued programming and continued to press forward setting up Karawala.com — an online booking agency without a solid payment processing solution. We believed it would all work out in the end. And after a few meetings and negotiations, we’re happy to report that we are finally on board and operating with Credomatic.
If I had had some faith from the get-go, I could have avoided some unnecessary stress.
4. Onward & upward to the next battlefield.
The last thing I’ve gleaned from this entire experience is that focusing on a single struggle isn’t the right approach to getting a business started in Nicaragua. When one struggle ends, the next one begins — and they often overlap. The next battlefield is never far off, so it’s better to attack the next issue as fast as possible.
Early this morning, I visited the Rubén Darío National Theater in hopes of making their events more accessible to the Nicaraguan public via Karawala.com. It was a sales visit with a purpose.
Thankfully, the idea behind the online ticketing was met with enough appreciation to make me hopeful of a possible partnership, but then logistics got in the way. Barrier after barrier was placed before me, much of which is typical here in Nicaragua, no?
I tried to jump each hurdle by referencing my mission, to better serve the customer and make their life easier in some way. Convincing them to jump those hurdles with me won’t be easy, but it will depend on their own mission, won’t it? Finding organizations whose missions align with mine is my next battlefield — and I’m looking forward to it.
I left the National Theater’s staff with one thought that I leave you with, as well: It is not easy. If it were, it would already be done. It may not be easy, but it is worth it. If you are interested in this project, let me know.
Marcella Chamorro recently released a book on authenticity in marketing, titled To Be or Like to Be, and she also writes for her blog on lifestyle & marketing. She is a blogger, speaker, and consultant based in Managua, working on developing technologies to help people be more creative. Marcella writes the column ‘Challenging Innovation in Nicaragua’ for The Nicaragua Dispatch.