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.
The platform provides small businesses in the region with an avenue to support their recovery, build resilience and drive growth using digital technologies.
The platform My East African Soko or Myeasoko is developed by EABC in partnership with ITC’s 5-year corporate program One Trade Africa. Traders and service providers from across the region can interact on the platform’s web portal or mobile application to access business information, market their products online, attract international buyers and expand their trade opportunities.
Additional services available on the platform include an integrated e-marketplace, business listings portal and SME training academy. Small businesses will also have access to the required information to support their cross-border trade initiatives, this includes AfCFTA trade documents and procedures for pre-selected shipments of goods to any of the countries identifies under the Guided Trade Initiative.
Several high-level officials attended the event including EABC Executive Director John Bosco Kalisa; ITC Executive Director Pamela Coke-Hamilton; EABC Board Director Mr. Kake Dhariwal, Arusha Regional Commissioner Hon. John Mongella, 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, YouLead Africa and Mr. Steve Machage, Lead Expert, One Trade Africa- ITC.
The launch of Myeasoko reinforces ITC’s keen focus to leverage the trend in digitization and collaborate with key business support organizations to support African women and youth entrepreneurs in broadening their opportunities through intra-African trade.
“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” said Ms. Pamela Coke-Hamilton.
The new platform is a welcome tool for East African small businesses having borne the brunt of the COVID-19 crisis and facing the impact of the conflict in Ukraine which has compromised a tentative recovery and disrupted global supply chains.
During the event’s opening, EABC Executive Director John Bosco Kalisa emphasized “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 SMEs especially youth and women,” Mr. John Bosco Kalisa.
He stated SMEs provide goods and services that are better adapted to local markets; stimulate innovation; entrepreneurship, sustain economic growth and account for 60% of jobs in the EAC.
The Chief Guest, Hon. John Mongella, Arusha Regional Commissioner reiterated the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania’s pledge to provide a conducive environment for SMEs and large businesses to thrive and trade beyond Tanzania’s borders, under the leadership of H.E. President Samia Suluhu Hassan. Hon. Mongella further urged SMEs to showcase their products and access the EAC and African markets via www.myeasoko.com.
Hon. Pamela Maassay, MP of the East African Legislative Assembly said the Assembly is steadfast to unlock barriers to intra-EAC trade and ease business through enacting bills and policies.
As part of the e-commerce services available the platform has integrated a mobile app notification system to ensure continued interaction between small businesses and EABC for efficient last-mile delivery.
The platform is also enabled to accept online payments, track product delivery, and provide 24hr customer support through an integrated chat support system and social media. Areas with low internet coverage will be able to access the platform using a mobile android application currently available for download.
The platform’s launch was a featured highlight during the regional EAC business gathering themed “Embracing New Trading Trends Amidst Global Shocks: Business Rebound & Building Back Better.”
Other industry captains at the unveiling ceremony of www.myeasoko.com were Mr. Vincent Lasway from Kibo Palace Hotel and Doreen Wilfred Tarimo from HighLife Spirit and Managers from Tanzania Breweries Limited.