Women in trade across East Africa are set to access and use vital and simplified information that will unlock opportunities for participation, formalization of businesses and growth in trade value.
This follows the unveiling of an integrated information platform dubbed iSOKO through a partnership between the Trademark Africa (TMA), Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) through the support of Global Affairs Canada, to support women in trade across East Africa.
iSOKO will also provide the women with a regional marketplace to buy and sell goods, access vital trade and market information, business management tools including bookkeeping, access to verified service providers and networking opportunities with fellow traders.
The Canadian High Commissioner to Kenya Christopher Thornley stated that having women at the centre of trade enables the delegation to meet its development targets effectively.
“Having women at the centre is how we do development, foreign policy and trade. It is effective, and helps us to meet our development objectives,” he said.
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Thornely noted that iSOKO will go a long way in addressing the key market and information gaps that exist for women traders in cross-border trade.
Further, he added that the platform, which was unveiled in Nairobi, will serve to bring together women traders from five countries in the East African Community – Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi.
On his part, KNCCI President Richard Ngatia noted that the platform is already attracting great use by traders in the country.
“We have 2,650 users on board the platform with information on over 100 commodities uploaded, we expect the numbers to grow significantly after this launch,” said Ngatia.
Additionally, he stated that women traders appreciated the news segment on the platform keeping them up to date and that the platform’s business management tools helped users improve their business practices and manage their finances more effectively.
The portal provides free access to women traders who wish to register and is expected to go a long way in increasing the trade value and incomes of women traders across the region, especially those engaged in informal trade.