April 16, 2020

An African Market Research Service Moving to the Beat - Here's How

What if you were given the opportunity to carry out your own market research in only a few days?

Launched in 2019, LOOKA seeks to make reliable data collection and analysis accessible to all by using the power of technology and a network of trained local surveyors. We are a new African market research service based in Dakar, with a growing network of 100 surveyors, and clients, in Senegal, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Niger and Guinea-Conakry.

We’ll spare you the pitch on how we’ll revolutionize market research. It is not our goal and key advances were already underway when we came to the field. But we have new ideas for a “hands-on-approach” and transparent visualization of data collection in African countries. Most of our studies offer strategic advice for digital solutions in the telecom, distribution, fintech and banking sectors.

Let us quickly tell you why LOOKA was created and present findings from some of our research in Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal.

From Street Vendors to LOOKA

LOOKA — which means to "search" in Lingala, a Congolese language — is being incubated by YUX, a pan-African research and design firm specializing in User Experience (UX) and Human Centered Design (HCD). Their goal is to adapt digital products and services to local preferences.

In 2017, YUX created a mobile app for street vendors called Jang (“to learn” in Wolof). Jang included sets of audios, videos and quizzes for training in entrepreneurship, English, and marketing principles. Jang provided key insights from within the informal sector and soon served as a stepping stone to focusing exclusively on a community-based approach to rapid data collection. This led to the creation of a service tailored to that very purpose: LOOKA.

Street vendor

Community of Surveyors with a Powerful App

We’re developing a multi-country network of trained local surveyors recruited among statistics, sociology, and anthropology students with experience in, or demonstrating strong interest for, field research. We also adapt to and encourage “X factors”, who may not be literate but savy and understanding of the local context with a good work ethic.

Our designers and developers built the LOOKA app, accessible offline, thanks to a user-centered approach. It is designed to allow surveyors to rapidly fill out questionnaires within their own communities — the objective being to ensure data reliability and meet ethical research standards paying particular attention to the diversity of local languages, cultural norms, values and surveyors' insights.

Looka app



We continuously share full-reports, most often self-funded, by making them freely available online in both English and French, presenting them at events and through webinars. We encourage our partners to do the same.

Our primary goal is to inform the public debate and spark more public-private initiatives in West Africa and beyond.


I. Mobile Gaming in West Africa (2019)

Download English and French Report here
Featured in an article by BBC Africa, here

Mobile Gaming, was presented publicly at Impact Hub Dakar, in front of a large crowd of game developers, game studio founders, designers and investors — and the results of the study informed the development of AfroJuggle, a game created by Kayfo Games in collaboration with YUX!

Stats mobile game

Key findings

  • 66% of respondents play more than 3 times EVERYDAY!
  • The top 3 most popular themes are sports, racing and adventure
  • 87% of gamers play on their smartphone
  • 25% have spent money on games
  • 80% have not heard of games with African cultural content


II. Rethinking a city for Toddlers – ImagiNation Afrika (2019)

Download English and French Report here
Featured in an article by LeMonde, here

The NGO ImagiNation Afrika is looking for solutions to improve public spaces and mobility for children in the most formative years of childhood. Over a five-month study, we mapped the urban environment of 0 to 3 year olds to offer recommendations for a better adapted city.


Work with amadou

Key findings

  • The top 3 places where toddlers play in Dakar are: their home, the beach, and paid private playgrounds
  • 63% of respondents don't know of public spaces in their commune
  • 83% say the street is the most dangerous space for children
  • Only 10% rank improving the environment of children as a priority of the municipality
  • A concerning number of adults believe that there is “no use to doing anything with a toddler between 0-3 years old”


III. Fears and Reactions to COVID-19 in Dakar (2020)

Download English and French Report here
Featured in an article by the Wall Street Journal, here

This research is one of the first released on the reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic in West Africa. It was conducted at the end of March, in only five days based on a sample of 252 residents in 17 neighborhoods of Dakar and its suburbs. In a two week-span, it has been downloaded in over 30 countries.


Etude covid 19

Key findings

  • 88% of respondents are worried or very worried
  • 25% already can no longer work
  • 75% are willing to or already receive all payments through mobile transfers
  • 51% wish for a home-delivery platform
  • 33% are struggling to find bread49% hand sanitizer29% masks



  • Quantifying qualitative insights

We are not just collecting data, but going beyond it with qualitative feedback from our surveyors and often from our own team of research professionals. This leads to strategic orientations informed by the data, while also detailing why respondents answered the way they did and providing an acute depiction of the context.

  • A human approach is essential for data reliability

Literacy, internet access and emails are limited, and online questions too often misunderstood. Our surveyors are fluent in local languages and trained in proper research methods, as well as members of the communities they work in. From the onset of greetings and manners they safeguard an important level of trust and attention to cultural norms for more accurate responses. This human approach provides insights often omitted through crowdsourcing methodologies.

  • Speed and agility is the basis for decision makers

By the time many studies are published, the data is obsolete. Misinformation often spreads much faster. Our surveyors are young research enthusiasts who move fast with the technology we provide them. We've previously collected up to 1000 surveys in a week. Our coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak is a case in point of the need for rapid data to inform initiatives, particularly during a crisis or for the launch of a new product. In a region with the most rapid uptake of smartphones and fastest growing population in the world, we have to keep up with needs and preferences.

  • Visual design becomes crucial to digest complex information                                          

Half of the battle for readers or clients is understanding which information is essential in each graph, which may not always be the highest percentages. Our UI Designers have worked hard for analytical — "at a glance" — data visualization in real time on an interactive dashboard for our Data analysts. Clear graphs are uploaded instantly on professionally designed reports and correlations are drawn across trends and key factors (age, gender, socio-economic status…) for clear takeaways to make well-informed decisions.             

More to come…
Our next posts will uncover our most recent studies on the financial behaviors of Market Women in Ghana, and our continuous analysis of perceptions, needs and reactions to the COVID outbreak in West Africa. Stay tuned!


Written by:  The LOOKA Team
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