ITWeb Feature Article on Insaka & Warrick Kernes

Jul 29, 2020

Thanks to IT Web for publishing an entire feature article on the great work being done by the Insaka eCommerce Academy. We really appreciate the kinds words! 

To read the article which is titled "Insaka eCommerce Academy Trains Thousands of Entrepreneurs" you can scroll down or click here through to the original article on the ITWeb website. 


E-commerce education institution Insaka eCommerce Academy has trained over 10,000 South African entrepreneurs since its inception in 2017.

Established by Warrick Kernes, founder of online-outdoor adventure store Action Gear, the academy aims to help South African entrepreneurs to start and grow their online businesses through sharing knowledge, experience and digital skills to increase online sales, through e-commerce.

Kernes has over a decade of e-commerce experience in SA and Europe, and sits on the Education Committee for the E-commerce Forum Africa. He says Insaka was inspired by his desire to share knowledge with others and help them avoid the mistakes made by him and his team, and help businesses accelerate growth and success online.

Courses and programmes offered to cross-sector entrepreneurs by the Johannesburg-based academy include: Your Online Store, eCommerce Next Level, Online Business Idea Validation, Importing Products into SA,Selling on the Takealot Marketplace and Five Steps to Launching Your Online Store.

Enrolled entrepreneurs also gain access to online resources, including a weekly Facebook live video workshop, an e-commerce toolbox and free e-books.

Described as “a place of learning and collaboration”, the academy also offers entrepreneurs an opportunity to join the Insaka Community, which bills itself as SA’s biggest community of e-commerce entrepreneurs. The platform enables members to network and work together to help one another achieve success in their online journeys.

Kernes, who has also worked as a guest lecturer on e-commerce at Wits Business School, told ITWeb that the lockdown has seen many businesses which were constrained from operating as normal, make a long-overdue entry into the online sales space.

“With the recent remarkable consumer uptake in online shopping, a lot of people have had a wake-up call. But now that lockdown levels are going down, they are very promptly returning to the comfort of the old normal. But we shouldn’t ignore the lessons of COVID-19. E-commerce is the way to the future, so entrepreneurs should embrace it fully and make this part of their business, and ‘don’t go back to sleep’,” explains Kernes, quoting renowned Persian poet Jalaluddin al-Rumi.

The word “Insaka” is an African word for an open-sided thatch located in the center of a village.

The academy offers both free and premium courses. The two premium offerings are: the Your Online Store course, which guides entrepreneurs step-by-step to build and launch their own online store without having to rely on developers; and the E-commerce Next Level course, which caters for South Africans who are already selling online but want to grow their traffic.

While Kernes asserts that e-commerce remains the “easiest and least risky way to start your own business”, he stresses that the sudden rush of people signing up to buy online is putting heavy pressure on service providers.

“A lot of support services, such as couriers and payment gateways and software suppliers, are battling to keep up with the demand, and some customers are being left high and dry. I always believe that managing customer expectations is key,” he notes.

Encouragingly for those interested in starting an online business, the current consumer habits are likely to persist long after COVID-19 has subsided. He is of the view that this trend should be a wake-up call for businesses that still do not fully recognise the long-term strategic value of harnessing their e-commerce potential.

However, he points out that maintaining strong online visibility is a new challenge that emerged due to the mass of sellers coming online.

“Previously, the challenge with building an online store was creating a Web site and taking payments online or delivering a parcel overnight. Today, these challenges are largely solved, through the available advanced tech offerings. To stand out, businesses must market across all online platforms,” he advises.

“There isn’t one social media platform which is going to turn your business around, there isn’t a secret switch to make orders pour through your site – test a variety of marketing channels and approaches.”

In addition, he advises entrepreneurs to pick their partners with care and find service providers that support their customer service drive.

“Keep learning and growing – building a slick online store is just the beginning. To truly succeed, entrepreneurs need to continually invest their time in learning how to develop a sustainable online business.”

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