TradeMark Africa (TMA) has launched a trading platform aimed at easing market and information access for women traders in East Africa after receiving $2 million (Sh261.8 million) in donor funds from the Canadian government through its philanthropy arm Global Affairs Canada.
Dubbed iSOKO, the platform launched on Wednesday has been tipped to eliminate challenges that hurt operations for start-ups.
The trade aid agency aims to hit 20,000 subscribed traders in the region by the close of this year.
The e-commerce platform can be accessed through a mobile application, a website and a USSD code. Customers can view displayed commodities and business management where onboarded traders get to take charge of their sales through services such as bookkeeping and tracking orders.
The trade aid agency said the platform is currently operational in five East African countries that include Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi with at least 3,700 traders and 50 service providers have already signed up.
In Kenya, the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) serves as the country host for the platform.
“Through our county chamber and Women in Business arm, we have onboarded 2,650 users onto the platform with information on over 100 commodities uploaded. Of this number, 34 are service providers and 25 orders have been processed so far,” stated KNCCI President Richard Ngatia during the launch.
Canadian High Commissioner to Kenya Christopher Thornley touted women's involvement in trade and development as keys to unlocking poverty reduction.
"Having women at the centre of how we do development, foreign policy and trade, is effective, and helps us to meet our development objectives key among them poverty reduction," stated Thornley.
Kenya’s shift to digital trade has been sluggish in past years owing to low penetration of internet connectivity as well as cyber security concerns.