Data-Driven Strategies for Reaching Profitability

Sub-Saharan Africa
CrossBoundary Advisory
Consumer Goods
Market: Kenya
Customer segmentation model and interactive map plots allow client to investigate various elements of their operations before making decisions
Data analytics


Through CrossBoundary (the “Transaction Advisors”), the USAID Kenya East Africa Mission and Prosper Africa recently supported Copia, an e-commerce platform in Kenya to create data-driven tools to guide investor conversations and showcase strategies the company is pursuing as part of their expansion efforts. Simultaneously, the company’s data team was upskilled in operating the tools, adding value through technical assistance.

The e-commerce firm serves the mass market through price savings by creating an agent network where customers can order staple goods such as rice and cooking oil offline by directly browsing catalogues with the agent or online through their app, USSD, or WhatsApp.

Figure 1: Starting point when deciding how to segment customers


The Transaction Advisors co-created a scope of work with the firm that would showcase how their business would reach profitability through an incoming investment round by creating a tool that assists them in identifying the best regions across Kenya for expansion. The Transaction Advisors built a tool to identify individual customer spending habits, decide on the appropriate marketing for individuals, and a tool to hire additional agents across the existing service area. We used a build-operate-transfer (BOT) model where we looked to train the company to use the tools, creating additional value through technical assistance for investors. The two strategies are detailed below:

  1. Individual Customer Marketing – Firstly, we created a customer segmentation model that split customers based on their recency, frequency, and monetary value. Once segmented, the client could apply a variety of individually targeted marketing campaigns to improve sales. See the table in Figure 1 above. From this table, you can see what customers would receive regarding this marketing. This was used as a starting point before developing bespoke customer personas using a tailored algorithm to provide individuals with promotions that were well received.
  2. Hiring to Reach Profitability – We created an agent hiring strategy by looking at the profit per customer, market penetration, and geospatial datasets in Figures 2-4 below. This helped us understand where our client was most likely to succeed. The tool we built gives the hiring manager a view of hexagons across the areas they serve with locations they should target to help the company reach profitability faster. These targets were created through a scoring system that the client can update based on their knowledge of each area. The hexagons you see have an edge length of 3.7km, roughly 36 km^2 area – you can find out more about the uber h3 methodology we use at CrossBoundary Data Analytics here.

Figure 2 (below): Population across the client’s service areas in Kenya

Figure 3 (below): The total number of buildings within the area the client served was calculated using open street maps

Figure 4 (below): Total number of roads within the area the client served was calculated using open street maps


The client implemented these strategies, with initial results showing a margin increase of 3%, and management decided to proceed with rolling out the tool across all operational areas. Management also expects to roll out the marketing strategy in 2024, with the Transaction Advisors providing their data team with guidance.

Most importantly, these profitability strategies have taken on a critical operational role within the business, clearly contributing to their success while demonstrating more use cases for building data-driven capacity to unlock capital in underserved markets.

N.B. All the map plots created are interactive and allow the client to investigate various elements of their operations before making decisions, such as which counties to target for hiring or which customers to focus on when piloting various marketing campaigns.