The East African Business Council (EABC) and the International Trade Centre (ITC) have launched an online platform designed to boost the competitive edge of East African small businesses dubbed, My East African Soko or Myeasoko www.myeasoko.com.
The platform supports small businesses in the region in their recovery from the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, builds resilience in light of the War in Ukraine and drives growth using digital technologies.
International Trade Centre Executive Director Pamela Coke-Hamilton said that ‘My East African Soko’ will re-introduce small businesses into global marketplaces, enable them to join regional value chains and give them an opportunity to scale up.
With the platform, traders and service providers from across the region can interact on the web portal or mobile application to access business information, market their products online, attract international buyers and expand their trade opportunities.
Additional services include an integrated e-marketplace, a business listings portal and a training academy.
Small businesses will also have access to cross-border trade information, documents related to the African Continental Free Trade Area and procedures for pre-selected shipments of goods to any of the countries identified under the Guided Trade Initiative.
The integrated mobile app notification system ensures continued interaction between small businesses and EABC for efficient last mile delivery, online payment, tracking product delivery, and 24hr customer support using an integrated chat support system and social media to complement the portal.
East African Business Council Executive Director John Bosco Kalisa said that ‘EABC has leveraged digital technologies and has developed www.myeasoko.com to support the EAC’s economic recovery, build resilience and drive future growth for small businesses, especially for youth and women.
“Small businesses stimulate innovation, entrepreneurship, sustain economic growth and account for 60% jobs in the EAC,” said Kalisa.
Myeasoko reinforces the International Trade Centre’s focus on digitization and collaboration with business support organizations that support African women entrepreneurs and youth through intra-African trade.
The platform was developed by EABC in partnership with the International Trade Centre’s corporate programme One Trade Africa.
High-level officials attended the launch event, including EABC Executive Director John Bosco Kalisa, ITC Executive Director Pamela Coke-Hamilton, EABC Board Director Kake Dhariwal and Arusha Regional Commissioner Hon. John Mongella.
Others include MP of East African Legislative Assembly Hon. Pamela Maassay, Members of East African Women in Business Platform, British Business Group Arusha Chapter and Tanzania Association of Horticulture, and YouLead Africa.
One Trade Africa works to enable, empower and enhance African micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), women and youth entrepreneurs to access transformative business opportunities created by the African Continental Free Trade Area.
The programme embraces a three-pronged delivery model which supports African MSMEs to compete, connect and change at the enterprise, business ecosystem and policy levels.
ITC provides African MSMEs with training, advice and coaching to build capacities, connect to new and more lucrative markets and create jobs.
By Joseph Ng’ang’a