INNOVATION

New e-commerce platform seeks to connect African SMEs

It will offer services like business matchmaking, market research, logistics, consumer trends and behaviors.

In Summary
  • Challenges facing the SMEs sector in the continent range from lack of market information, inexperienced exporters/importers and poor logistics infrastructure.
  • SMEs account for around 80 per cent of the region’s businesses and mostly usually struggle to penetrate more advanced overseas markets.
Shreyas Patel, Director , Ancestral House Eastern Africa and executive chairman Osei Imoukhuede during a media briefing in Nairobi
Shreyas Patel, Director , Ancestral House Eastern Africa and executive chairman Osei Imoukhuede during a media briefing in Nairobi
Image: HANDOUT

Small and Medium Enterprises in Africa are set to benefit from a newly launched E-commerce trading platform aimed at promoting intra-Africa trade.

The platform dubbed Ancestral House Eastern Africa  will connect East and West Africa traders at a go offering services like business matchmaking, market research, logistics, consumer trends and behaviors.

“The biggest challenge most SMEs in the continent face, is that they cannot easily export goods within the continent, but they can easily export and import goods from other continents despite the intra Africa trade potential being over US$ 1 billion annually,” said Ose Imoukhuede chairman, Ancestral House Eastern Africa.

According to Imoukhuede challenges facing the SMEs sector in the continent range from lack of market information, inexperienced exporters/importers and poor logistics infrastructure.

Others include inefficient cross-border and  payment systems/infrastructure, cultural differences, gaps, trust deficit and varied competitive landscape.

“We want to be the one-stop solution for all these problems and enable them scale up their businesses,”Imoukhuede said.

The launch comes at the wake of a vibrant African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) that cover a market of 1.2 billion people and a gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.5 trillion, across all 55 member States of the African Union.

SMEs account for around 80 per cent of the region’s businesses and mostly usually struggle to penetrate more advanced overseas markets.

However, with AFCFTA, the SMEs are well positioned to tap into regional export destinations and can use regional markets as stepping stones for expanding into overseas markets at a later point.

The African Continental Free Trade Area offers employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for youth, but policymakers and development organizations must take steps to ensure the agreement reaches its full potential.

Africa’s large and fast-growing youth population is considered one of its greatest assets, with a central role to play in shaping the development of the continent.

Yet, young Africans face numerous challenges that affect their livelihoods and make it difficult for them to thrive.

A new International Trade Centre (ITC) report explores how youth stand to benefit from the creation of a single market and promotion of key sectors, including manufacturing, agriculture and services.

Africa is the youngest continent in the world, with a median age of 19.8 years and 65per cent of the population under age 25. A third of all youth are expected to live in Africa by 2050.