intersections selling sunglasses, earbud
headphones, and coconuts out of pushcarts. Tin-roofed shops displaying sneakers, dress shirts, sofas, and the occasional
parrot cling to the edges of highways and
Many of the goods there are second-
hand or cheap knockoffs, which leaves
Ghanaians of means in want of more
upmarket alternatives. Although metro-
politan Accra, with a population of four
million, now boasts several modern shop-
ping malls, many people wait to make
purchases on overseas trips or rely on fam-
ily in the diaspora. Even Ashong sources
much of his wardrobe from abroad. “I
have an uncle in New York,” he tells me
when I ask about his fashionable loafers.
“I usually wait for him to visit.”
For Ashong’s customers, who’ve had
Tisu products delivered to their homes,
businesses, and classrooms, searching for
products online is faster than waiting for a
family courier’s visit and more convenient
than fighting traffic to get to a mall or mar-
ket. Nelson Amo, the CEO of a local invest-
ment firm and Ashong’s second client of
the day, says he prefers the site because
it saves him time and he’s confident its
products are “verified.” Today’s delivery,
an Infinix Hot 4 smartphone ordered less
than 24 hours earlier, is the third order
he’s made from Tisu. It arrives without the
screen protector he had expected—essen-
tial to prevent his kids from “crushing it”—
so he’ll have to place his fourth.
For many Ghanaians, though, a lack of
trust in online retail remains a significant
deterrent. The vast majority of Tisu cus-
tomers pay with cash on delivery, in part
because few of them have a credit card
or mobile money app, but also because
most Ghanaians prefer to have a product
in their hands before they commit to buy-
ing it. Augusta Davis, head of operations
and customer service for Tisu, says the
company has had problems with custom-
ers placing orders simply to “test the site,”
only to refuse the products on delivery.
Internet penetration in Ghana is relatively high—the National Communications Authority counts 18 million mobile
data subscribers, equivalent to 66 percent of the population—but data bundles
are expensive and memory is limited on
many popular phones, deterring some
from downloading apps for making pur-
Online Orders Delivered
Over four hours, Tisu driver
Michael Ashong zigzags
across the Ghanian capital
and its suburbs, dealing with
traffic jams, poor directions,
and hard-to-reach customers,
delivering items costing less
than $10 and more than $100.
On busy days, it’s not unusual
for Ashong to make 20 stops,
delivering orders to customers
and picking up goods from
N Kotuka International Airport
Pantang Hospital and Nursing School
Tisu office, East Legon
VIP Bus Transport Terminal
Item: Nike Presto Flyknit sneakers
& Monster Bluetooth stereo device.
Time: 10: 40 a.m.
Item: Moon Love necklace
Time: 1: 55 p.m.
Item: Infinix Hot S smartphone
Time: 12:05 p.m.
Item: Detox Bottle
Time: 11: 40 a.m.
Item: Infinix Hot 4 smartphone
Time: 11 a.m.