The LakeHub organization, in partnership with the UNDP and with funding from the Russian Embassy, has piloted an E-Commerce platform that will see over 500 women in informal businesses in Kisumu County engage in digital trade.
Purity Akoth, Project Lead, Chichwa E-commerce and women–based SMEs in Kisumu County. The SMEs use the platform to identify clients as well as increase their sales.
Dubbed, the Chichwa E-Commerce platform, the technology will increase the women’s opportunities for both social and economic growth as they engage customers through the digital space. The platform will allow women to circumvent obstacles occasioned by COVID-19 and others, and sell their products online.
“This is key to allowing women entrepreneurs to access wider markets, increase their customer base and grow sustainable businesses post Covid-19 pandemic.” Said James Odede, the LakeHub CEO.
To ensure no woman is left behind in this digital space, LakeHub has recruited 631 women in informal businesses across ten local markets within Kisumu county. Further, the women recruited are from four business sectors: Fresh produce, second-hand clothes (Mitumba), Juakali/Artisan and Kiosk/Kibanda food vendors.
To trade on the platform, both the seller and the buyer need to register and their details verified to curb fraud. Helping women in informal businesses to transition to selling via formal e-commerce platforms, where they can access wider markets is one of CHICHWA’S objectives, and in line with closing the gender gap in e-commerce.
Today, more than ever, technology is increasing opportunities for social and economic growth. However, several obstacles stand in the way of women’s entrepreneurship, access to markets and business growth. Social distancing due to Covid-19 made physical access to markets impossible thereby increasing the need for e-commerce, which provides unlimited business opportunities globally.
“Kenya has one of the highest internet penetration rates in Africa and there’s still a big disparity between male and female internet usage, despite the fact that women represent more than half the Kenyan population, and also make up the majority of informal traders. With Chichwa we hope to help women traders access a bigger customer base than ever before, since it offers women the freedom to work from home while expanding their business.” shared Dorcas Owinoh, the director of programs at Lake hub.
The Chichwa E-Commerce platform is meant to make shopping easier and faster. One does not need to visit the market physically as has been the case for years. Once buyers within Kisumu order goods, the items will be delivered and payment is done upon delivery including the delivery charges. Chichwa E-commerce isn’t just about the number of sellers going online but also bringing in more diverse products and services that serve a wider market and more customer needs.