Burundi’s iSOKO a digital platform which was officially launched in Bujumbura last Friday is set to facilitate the intra-regional trade in the East African Community mainly targeting women traders.
During the official launch of iSOKO Platform that was held at Hotel Club du Lac on Friday 28th of August, Trade Mark Africa (TMA) has conveyed that it is a step ahead for traders and consumers who will be able to browse a range of products in no time.
“iSOKO will enhance traders ‘strategies regarding sharing and getting access to commercial information in real time and adopt latest trends on the market. In other words a trader based in Makamba will easily be notified of the latest prices of sold beans in Ngozi and vice-versa. This will also make it more convenient to them as they will shop from anywhere,” said Christian Nibasumba TMA representative in Burundi.
As for the Burundi’s Federal Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CFCIB) Secretary General Denis Nshimirimana, the project will revolutionize the business world especially for women who operate in crossing border trade.
“On a national plan, we aims to see approximatively 20,000 economic operators in this very Women in Trade project,” said Mr. Nshimirimana.
According to the CFCIB Secretary General, the platform will be beneficial for traders not only in Burundi but also in the East African Community.
“As a regional project, this project will allow women engaged in cross-border trade to access or learn about the products available in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda or Uganda and enter into a network trade,” said Denis Nshimirimana.
For the Association of Cross-Border Traders (ACTB), the platform will allow traders to improve their sales without encountering challenges.
“Through our commercial information offices (BIC), you will only find information on the crossing, we are not aware of the realities on the ground. There will certainly be a slight improvement because the application will allow them to detect where to source and the market for their product while being at home,” said Solane Nirere, representing the ACTB.
Despite the platform promising to provide a great opportunity for traders, there are still underlying challenges that includes shortcomings in relation to payment, and the low level of education of Burundian women.
“Certainly, the application reflects several advantages including road safety, monetary security, but we deplore the fact that the majority of Burundian women do not know how to use it correctly. Therefore, we will need training sessions and high-speed internet to carry out our transactions,” said Fidelie Bivugire from the Association of Business Women in Burundi.
As for TMA the application translates transparency, speed, traceability, time and money saving.
It should be noted that since the iSOKO platform was presented to economic operators on 9/03/2023at royal palace, atleast 400 women have benefited directly from the program and some 2000 benefited indirectly.