WITU developed www.amaduka.com, an online marketplace for women-owned micro and small businesses across East Africa, starting with Uganda and Kenya. With this innovative online market place, WITU has taken up the challenge of making the Fourth Industrial Revolution work for women in business. Many of them are left behind by this fundamental change, in which the physical and digital worlds are merging. They are still limited to brick-and mortar-shops, because they fear the costs of getting online and are not informed about the requirements of e-commerce and the opportunities of trading across borders.
E-commerce has gained particularly great importance in the ongoing COVID19 crisis, as businesses across the board lose their earnings due to restricted physical movement.
The new Amaduka platform offers a variety of services and products provided exclusively by women entrepreneurs. 95 sellers have registered and uploaded their profiles to the platform. An online payment system and delivery service facilities are in place.
Moreover, the platform is also a one-stop-centre for all information and support that is needed to expand into the new e-market plus all the important information on requirements for setting up a business in UG and KE. WITU cooperates closely with the respective authorities such as revenue authorities and customs offices to provide the proper information on the requirements for setting up a business in Uganda and Kenya as well as the information on taxes and duties to be paid.
In addition, WITU also offers business training including how to use technology for e-business.
“It is likely that, even after the pandemic subsides, technology skills and technology-driven processes will become ever more useful in a shrinking, more efficiency-driven economy. Our platform comes in handy to give women business owners access to customers who want to use, or are already using, digital methods to buy,” says Barbara Birungi Mutabazi, Founding Director of WITU. She further explains: “Many people will likely continue to shop online well beyond COVID19. We want to ensure that more small women business owners will be able to process digital payments, and we want to provide every businesswoman with an opportunity to serve customers who might never step into their shop. Our platform has therefore put in place local payment methods such as Mobile Money and Visa using local companies. So far, WITU has trained over 600 women traders and entrepreneurs on how to use e-commerce, and the platform has 200 traders and growing. Within a very short time after launching the platform, there have been 56 transactions with a total value of more than USD 5,000. We know that this will also create new jobs and enable women to grow and enhance their businesses. We estimate that over 2000 women will develop their own work opportunities as a result of this support.”
WITU appeals to the East African Community to continue removing the barriers that prevent women from entering online business, such as high internet charges or OTT, commonly known as social media tax in Uganda, to provide IT literacy training to citizens and to expand the opportunities to pay across the region through Mobile Money services.
WITU is inviting more for women entrepreneurs, traders and resellers to join the platform.
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