The Digital Bazaar

Where Market Women’s Children Chat with Chatbots and Dreams are Woven in Code

In Mexico City, Lisseth Cordero Luna and Laura Alejandra Valdez had a dream: to establish a recycling culture and tackle the country’s waste problem. They didn’t just dream; they launched Ecolana, a website and app that makes recycling fun and easy. Today, their digital map is the largest of its kind in Mexico, helping citizens identify, sort, and recycle waste.

Half a world away, in the heart of Lagos’s tech scene, Temie Giwa-Tubosun keeps a watchful eye on the LifeBank app, a revolutionary platform she created. Her mission? To deliver life-saving blood to hospitals across Africa, proving that even the most dire challenges can be met with innovation and technology.

These women are just two of the many emerging titans in the digital bazaar, my friends, where the daughters of market women mingle with coding prodigies, and dreams are spun from algorithms and ambition.


But hold on tight because the digital express is just leaving the station. Entrepreneurs are already envisioning nanobots mending your shoes before they scuff, holographic shopkeepers offering virtual tours of bespoke tailoring, and global marketplaces where blockchain guarantees fair trade for artisans from Accra to Antigua.

This, my friends, isn’t just the future of small business; it’s a revolution in how we make and spend our money. So, let’s raise a glass to the digital frontier, where the only limits are those we impose upon ourselves (as flimsy as the digital fences we build to guard our data). Let’s embrace the unknown, for the seeds of the next great economic revolution are sown in the fertile soil of bold ideas.

As we step into this new era, let’s not forget the wisdom of the past. The timeless lessons of the marketplace are crucial, but it’s also important to recognize that business ecosystem–the fertile grounds where innovation thrives–are not created out of thin air.

Small Business Ecosystems are built through careful cultivation and nurturing over time, guided by research, direct experience, and hard-earned knowledge gained in the field.

The magic of this process lies in the invisible stakeholders, the “crafters” of these ecosystems, who share a common belief in the power of small businesses to address the “polycrisis.” Historian Adam Tooze explains that economics, politics, geopolitics, and the natural environment form a complex web of issues without a common denominator or a single solution. This concept becomes apparent when considering the interplay between the COVID-19 pandemic, conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East, and issues with energy, cost of living, and climate change.

Ecolana and LifeBank are living proof. Lisseth and Laura Alejandra built their dream on existing technologies and the support of programs like BBVA Momentum and New Ventures, tapping into the growing demand for sustainable solutions. Giwa-Tubosun leveraged her extensive experience in healthcare and the backing of global organizations to build LifeBank into the success it is today.

In this new world, where creativity and technology dance in (almost) perfect harmony, building a business ecosystem has become the most advanced, complex big idea for small businesses. This multilateral, multidiscipline, global effort will provide the essential support, resources, and connections that turn dreams into reality.

So, let’s celebrate the true digital alchemists of today and tomorrow, and let’s invest in the ecosystems that empower them. For it is through these collaborative networks that the true potential of the digital bazaar will be unlocked.

By Roger Santodomingo, ANDE

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ANDE.