[East Africa Business Week] Bob Koigi: Boosting small businesses’ competitivity in the region
Small businesses are the engine of the East African economic growth, employing millions and opening up the member states to interact with each other through seamless trade.
Yet these businesses have had to contend with a cocktail of challenges that have slammed brakes on their growth from taxation, the COVID-19 crisis, conflict in Ukraine which has compromised a tentative recovery and disrupted global supply chains among others. Technology has proven to be key in bolstering trade and connecting more small businesses to opportunities.
Alive to this fact, The East African Business Council (EABC) and the International Trade Centre (ITC) recently launched an online platform designed to boost the competitive edge of East African small businesses – www.myeasoko.com. The platform provides small businesses in the region with an avenue to support their recovery, build resilience and drive growth using digital technologies.
This comes months after the region’s heads of state in a summit committed to revitalize the bloc’s common market to allow citizens to communicate easily, and to move and ferry goods freely across the region.
In the banking and financial services sector, Hibret Bank has launched Hibir e-commerce, a digital payments platform that allows Ethiopian businesses and retailers to accept international card payments for online purchases. Hibir e-commerce is first-of- its kind in the Ethiopian banking industry. This move is expected to help local businesses reach new markets and increase revenue while expanding Ethiopia’s access to the digital economy.
The Board of Directors of the African Development Fund, the concessional lending arm of the African Development Bank Group have approved a $6.63 million grant to the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) to develop the pharmaceutical sector in the sub-region.
Paystack has joined a number of other providers that have been granted payments license to operate in Kenya.
The company which was acquired by Stripe back in 2020 has announced that the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has authorised it to operate as a Payment Service Provider in Kenya.
SecondSTAX, a technology company that is building solutions to enhance intra-Africa capital and investment flows, has launched the SecondSTAX Portal – a technology-driven order management and execution routing system for investment firms - in Kenya and Ghana, enabling institutional investors across Africa to easily and directly invest in the Nairobi Securities Exchange and the Ghana Stock Exchange.
In other news, Katapult Africa recently launched its Accelerator program in Kigali, Rwanda welcoming 9 portfolio companies to the Katapult family.The event brought together over 200 investors, gathering to see the most innovative agri-tech startups tackling value-chain inefficiencies and impact on the continent.
In partnership with the Tony Blair Institute, Norrsken and Smart Africa and supported by Norad, Katapult Africa aims to invest in and help scale the next generation of impact agri- and climate tech startups.
An African mining company based in the DRC will be enjoying high-speed satellite-based connectivity services as part of a new agreement between Shevon and SES, the two companies have announced.
The two-year agreement will see Shevon provide for the first time SES’s O3b Medium earth Orbit (MEO) high-throughput and low-latency connectivity services, enabling the DRC mining company to implement new services and applications that will improve workers’ safety, digitalise operations and maximise profitability through increased agility and automation.