Facebook Users In The Middle East And Africa Use The Site In Some Surprisingly Different Ways

Business Insider: BI recently sat down with Facebook’s VP of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Nicola Mendelsohn. During her two years at Facebook, she has spent a lot of time visiting the different regions she is responsible for and discovering how people in the Middle East and Africa in particular are using Facebook in really novel ways. Here are some of the examples she shared (and some we’ve gathered through our own research)

Many people in the Middle East and Africa have skipped desktop altogether

Facebook now has 191 million users in the Middle East and Africa, 85% of which are visiting via mobile.

Mendelsohn described what a difference that makes: “I was in Nairobi, Kenya, earlier this year and their whole payment system there is mobile. M-Pesa is unbelievable. So you can be walking down the streets of a market, and the market will be no different to something that you could have been in a thousand years ago, but everyone is trading by using their mobile phone. And you kind of go, ‘well how come I can go shopping on the streets of London and it’s unfathomable [to be able to do that]?’ So there’s a lot we can learn from being over there.”

A woman in Kenya is growing her fashion business on Instagram

On the Kenya trip, Mendelsohn met a woman called Isabella who runs a fashion business called Fashion254.

She’s using Instagram to actively sell her dresses, even though Instagram advertising hasn’t been brought to the region yet. Isabella’s Instagram bio asks shoppers to call or Whatsapp her to arrange delivery.

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