Among the cacophony of honking lorries and speeding motorbikes that define East Africa’s borders, it is easy to overlook small-scale traders that call this vibrant space their daily workplace. While not the loudest noisemakers at the border, small-scale traders represent a significant segment of cross-border trade within the East African Community – estimated at $1.6 billion each year. And yet for many small-scale traders, working at the border poses distinct barriers to their enterprise. With the recent support from African Women in Technology and other partners, Sauti Africa is in a unique position to leverage mobile tech to address some of these challenges.
Take, for example, a trader like Annette: a single mother of two who takes goods from Kenya across the Busia border to sell in Uganda. She doesn’t have the luxury of looking away when her informal status makes her vulnerable to bribery, sexual harassment, unfair prices, impounding of goods and even the specter of imprisonment. As a woman, the odds of facing these challenges only increase, and are further exacerbated should she decide to use a panya (smuggling) route.
Across East Africa …read more