Facilitating Intra-community Trade in Underserved Communities in Africa
In line with its mission to advance the growth of female-led businesses in rural and underserved communities in Africa, Tech Herfrica has launched a new initiative called the Akoko Firm Trade Initiative.
The initiative aims to facilitate trade for women traders and farmers in underserved communities in Africa by empowering them with digital tools and technical expertise to grow their businesses. One of the key projects under the initiative is the provision of an e-commerce platform to connect these women to domestic and international buyers.
To kick off the initiative, Tech Herfrica held a stakeholders meeting on March 11, 2023, in the Mpape Community in Abuja, which brought together 170 women in the community. During the interactive sessions, the women shared their experiences and challenges in their businesses, which led to some key findings.
According to the findings, traders in underserved communities often purchase items from rural sources at higher rates because they do not fully grasp how to leverage technology for networking and are not able to contact the rural sellers directly. This increases the cost of purchase, which affects their profitability.
However, some traders within the community have access to sources directly from local rural sellers. Still, other female sellers in similar businesses were not aware of this possibility and, thus, did not enjoy the economies of scale.
In addition, over 80% of the women were desirous of scaling up their businesses, which required access to more products at affordable prices to match the demand in their local sphere of influence. Also, 70% of the women financially support their homes to a large extent, yet they still live in abject poverty despite the sales they make.
Furthermore, none of the women could properly articulate their profits, indicating a dearth of financial literacy. Also, although the community had an internet connection, only 15% used the internet for social activities, and none of the women were aware that they could trade online.
In response to these findings, Tech Herfrica has profiled and grouped the women based on their nature of business. This will enable them to create an ecosystem that will allow for easier trade and carry out digital financial literacy programs for them.
The programs will show them how to treat finances in their business, calculate their profits, access business finance, and use the internet to learn and earn. Tech Herfrica will also show them how to leverage economies of scale to reduce the cost of purchasing their products.
To facilitate access to cheap sources of goods directly from rural sources through sellers at herlocalmarket.com, Tech Herfrica will empower a wholesale coordinator in each group, at a single-digit interest rate of less than 5%, who will get the products in bulk from a female rural source and then redistribute the goods to other sellers within her group who will then sell the products and return the capital upon sales to repurchase more goods.
The initiative will also empower farmers within each group with the technology needed to increase productivity. In addition, Tech Herfrica will partner with stakeholders to give these women access to internet-enabled mobile phones to allow for smooth trade and health insurance companies to give women access to discounted health premiums.
The Akoko Firm Trade Initiative will be monitored on a quarterly basis to refine the program design and assess success.
Tech Herfrica’s new initiative is a step towards empowering female traders and farmers in underserved communities in Africa, giving them access to more resources to grow their businesses and improve their livelihoods.