Evermos is Indonesia's version of social commerce – and it's Sharia-compliant, too

The startup aims to empower Indonesian Muslims, in particularly women, to find rewards both monetary and in the hereafter © Evermos

Evermos targets the resale market, encouraging students and housewives to earn extra income by promoting products on their social media and WhatsApp networks 

Launched in February 2019, Evermos is an Indonesian self-billed “social commerce” platform with a specific focus. Short for “Everyday Need for Every Moslem” (sic), the startup provides a reseller system that is focused on selling everyday products that comply with the Sharia, the Islamic law. 

Essentially acting as a distribution channel for Muslim brands, Evermos has quickly gathered momentum, currently counting over 30,000 registered resellers in its network. In three months, it moved from being bootstrapped to receiving a Series A funding of $8.25m led by Singapore-based VC Jungle Ventures, with participation from China’s Shunwei Capital and Indonesia’s Alpha JWC. By the end of 2019, Evermos had partnered with 200 suppliers, with 2,000 varieties of products for sale.

With the funds at its disposal, Evermos has the luxury to “take additional risks and do more experiments to speed up the process of finding the product market fit and make bigger impacts to our reseller and SME partners,” says spokesperson Muhammad Ghufron Mustaqim, who co-founded the company with CEO Iqbal Muslimin. 

Evermos's reseller program is open for registration to anyone for a one-time IDR 300,000 (around $20) charge. A mix of sales incentives and straightforward setup makes the process enticing and breezy for the startup's target market – housewives, students, or employees looking for a side job that isn't too involving but provides a good extra income.

Solving the trust issue

“The majority of Indonesians never shop online due to trust issues with the online system or simply not knowing how to, especially in Indonesian lower-tier cities,” Mustaqim says, noting that only 30m of Indonesia's 270m population shop online.

“At the same time there are about 150m active social media and messaging app users,” he says, assuring that those communication platforms will be “great sales channels.”

Through Evermos's desktop and Android app, resellers sell products by Muslim-focused supplying brands such as Zoya, Mezora, House of Amee, Rabanni, Quran Cordoba and Hijab Etnik. They are provided with their own online shop – free of domain or hosting cost – though Evermos also encourages promoting and selling through social media accounts as well as popular messaging services like WhatsApp, which has proven to be effective. 

Finally, they are also provided with an online catalog with which they will begin selling products, and receive training from the Evermos sales team. Resellers receive commissions of between 15–30% from each sale, which can soon stack up their earnings. 

“A lot of our resellers earn commission Rp 3m–5m monthly,” Mustaqim says.

Resellers prefer working through Evermos to dealing directly with the brands due to a few factors. Aside from the practicality of its setup – a ready website and no requirement to stock the sales items in their own properties – going through the company means that resellers only have to sign up once for the right to resell products from a variety of brands.

Evermos essentially acts as an intermediary between resellers and the brands: it only deals with resellers and not the end customers.

Untapped halal market

While Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world, it has an untapped halal market. The 2016 “The State of The Global Islamic Economy Report” noted that in 2014–2015, 1.2m Indonesians searched online for Muslim goods such as halal food, literature, and fashion, but that only 10% of them actually managed to obtain the desired products. 

For Muslimin, this is something which Evermos can play a big part in remedying. He hopes for his company to drive the halal economy for Indonesian Muslims, eventually paving the way for major growth in sectors such as halal travel and sharia fintech, enriching and expanding the “syariat”economy and Muslim-based beliefs of giving and sharing between people, such as Zakat and Infaq.

According to Mustaqim, Evermos has an average 30–50% monthly growth in resellers. 

“More than 70% of our resellers are women, divided between those who stay at home and have jobs. Our best performing resellers are women who have intrinsic motivation to earn additional income and treat selling activity passionately. Most of our resellers live in Tier 2 and 3 cities,” he says. 

He is proud of how Evermos has been able to grow businesses.

“We are big supporters of helping local brand owners expand their business from only having one or two sales channels, most of them via traditional offline market, Instagram and/or Facebook pages, to having tens of thousands resellers actively promoting and selling their products to the resellers’ contacts.”

Evermos also collaborates with various local Islamic communities in Indonesia, onboarded as resellers. These include Islamic social finance non-profit DT Peduli and PT Manajemen Qolbu which are both part of popular Islamic scholar Aa Gym's Daarut Tauhiid foundation.

The company also works with Islamic boarding schools or “pesantren” – “to enable them in our value chain, whether as suppliers, resellers or end customers,” explains Mustaqim.

Enabler of Sharia community

For the company's investors, it is this network and understanding of the digital Islamic economic ecosystem that makes Evermos a promising investment.

Regarding their investment, Yash Sankrityayan, Principal at Jungle Ventures, noted through a press release that the founders of Evermos had a “deep understanding and respect for the large Sharia economy in Indonesia, a clear vision for supporting it with technology, as well as a genuine desire to build an ecosystem.” 

Evermos, the VC is certain, will enable and help Indonesians who are willing to work hard to have “additional income and contribute further to their households no matter their current employment and education status” – factors he believes are behind the social commerce’s rapid growth.

Evermos takes undisclosed amount of commission from the brands for sales made. They also make money from the resellers' registration fee. 

“Suppliers and brand owners provide discounts because we help them as a sales channel. We keep some percentage of the discount and pass the rest to resellers as commission when they successfully help sell the product from suppliers/brand owners,” Mustaqim says.

The company looks to eventually be a fully fledged Sharia-compliant startup. This means making money via means that are considered, in Islamic terms, “murabahah” and “mudharabah.” 

Women empowerment

The former points to an Islamic financing structure in which the amount of mark-up is negotiated between the investors and Evermos and calculated on the basis of cost of purchase for the seller. Meanwhile, the latter refers to a partnership or trust-based financial contract in which one party (in this case the investors) gives money to the other party (in this case, Evermos) for their business.

Mustaqim hopes that the success of Evermos will go beyond dollars and cents. For one, Evermos hopes to empower Indonesian women in many ways, he says. 

“Not only by enabling them to earn more, learning how to conduct a business, but also for them to live a more meaningful life, to become better Muslims,” he says. 

“We encourage our resellers to build offline communities with nearby resellers. In these groups, the activity goes beyond being resellers.” He points to one reseller in a tier 3 city who proactively initiated charity programs for COVID-19, making appointments for her group of resellers and aspiring-resellers to come to religious gatherings, where they read the Qur’an together, while also discussing how to better their business.

Mustaqim says that for a lot of these women, it isn't solely about earning money. 

“They feel content when sharing their skills to other people, not for monetary benefit, but because there is beyond ’pahala’ [worldly rewards]. It is rewards in the hereafter.”

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Edited by John Gee

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