• The LakeHub organisation, in partnership with the UNDP has piloted an e-commerce platform dubbed Chichwa, to boost women’s opportunities in the digital space.
• The women are from four business sectors: fresh produce, second-hand clothes (mitumba), juakali and kiosk food vendors.
More than 500 women in informal businesses in Kisumu will be engaging in digital trade.
The LakeHub organisation, in partnership with the UNDP has piloted an e-commerce platform dubbed Chichwa, to boost women’s opportunities in the digital space.
The opportunities will facilitate both social and economic growth.
The programme was facilitated through funding from the Russian Embassy.
LakeHub CEO James Odede on Thursday said the platform will allow women to circumvent obstacles occasioned by Covid-19, by selling their products online.
“This is key to allowing women entrepreneurs to access wider markets, increase their customer base and grow sustainable businesses post Covid- 19 pandemic,” he said.
Odede said LakeHub has recruited 631 women in informal businesses across ten local markets within Kisumu county.
The women are from four business sectors: fresh produce, second-hand clothes (mitumba), juakali and kiosk food vendors.
To trade on the platform, both the seller and the buyer need to register and their details verified to curb fraud.
Chichwa aims to close the gender gap in e-commerce by helping women in informal businesses, transition to selling via formal e-commerce platforms.
Today, more than ever, technology is increasing opportunities for social and economic growth.
However, several obstacles stand in the way of women’s entrepreneurship, access to markets and business growth.
Social distancing due to Covid-19 made physical access to markets impossible thereby increasing the need for e-commerce, which provides unlimited business opportunities globally.
LakeHub programmes director Dorcas Owinoh said Kenya has one of the highest internet penetration rates in Africa, but there’s still a big disparity between male and female internet usage.
This she said, is despite the fact that women represent more than half the Kenyan population and also make up the majority of informal traders.
“With Chichwa we hope to help women traders access a bigger customer base, since it offers women the freedom to work from home while expanding their business,” Owinoh said.
The Chichwa platform aims to make shopping easier and faster. One does not need to visit the market physically.
Once buyers within Kisumu order goods, the items will be delivered and payment done upon delivery, including the delivery charges.
“Chichwa isn’t just about the number of sellers going online. It also involves bringing in more diverse products and services, that serve a wider market and more customer needs,” Owinoh said.
(Edited by Bilha Makokha)