Using what they’ve earned, they can then bid on other goods listed on HoBeei that they do need. Software engineer Mariam Eluma developed the platform after years of concern about consumerism in Nigeria.
HoBeei users bid for items with a virtual currency called Buzzes, which they get by uploading items of their own, inviting friends to the platform, sharing HoBeei on social media, or by purchasing bundles of Buzzes for cash. Eluma and her team collect all items to be uploaded from users directly, and new purchases are delivered to successful bidders. The team has seen the use of Buzzes incentivising users to bid on items they would not usually be able to afford.
Eluma was disturbed by large trash heaps of pre-owned items that would never be re-used or recycled, all the while new items are bought in stores daily, often on credit. Eluma was one of three siblings raised by a single mother, who was able to provide them each with everything they needed by free-cycling items in her community and family.
HoBeei was designed especially for people who will always need new items, like parents providing for growing children. On the platform, they can upload clothes and toys their kids have outgrown, and use the Buzzes received to replace them with more age appropriate items. Students needing new furniture and stationery can free-cycle them when their studies are over, helping new students access more affordable or even free products when it’s their turn starting out.
HoBeei stock ranges from clothes, toys and furniture to textbooks, cookware and recreational items. More than 1,500 items worth roughly £9,000 have been free-cycled, sold for £2,000 worth of Buzzes, saving the 3,000 users of HoBeei £7,000. During the COVID-19 pandemic, HoBeei users increased as people shopped online and sought ways to cut costs after salary cuts and job losses.
Eluma and her team hope to change the stigma around owning and using second-hand items and break the trend of consumerism that they feel contributes greatly to wastefulness in Nigeria.
“There’s such a stigma to owning second-hand items, but by sharing what we have, more people can get what they need when they need it. HoBeei aims to stimulate resource redistribution, moving items from where they’re in surplus, to where they’re needed..”