Women cross-border traders in Rubavu District have been advised to embrace digital payment as part of their daily business activities.
About 50 women whose business falls under small-scale cross-border trade completed a three-day training on Thursday, August 10 aimed at equipping them with digital awareness.
Organised by Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) in partnership with Imbaraga Farmers Organization, under Digital Financial Inclusion for MSMEs, the training encourages cross-border traders to go cashless and engage in digital platforms in their business so as to mitigate day-to-day challenges like money exchange and counterfeit money.
The training runs across the eight member states, including Uganda, Kenya, and Zambia, among others.
According to COMESA, 60 per cent of women are engaged in cross-border trade while men stand at 40 per cent.
In Africa, present data shows that around 400 million adults find themselves excluded from financial services, with women constituting 60 per cent of this demographic.
Peruse Gakure, 60, Gisenyi sector, and Judith Cyimanimpaye, 23, Rubavu sector are vegetable and fruit retailers. Their business comprises crossing into Goma town via Petite Barrière border post.
“We have been trained on how we can sell our products online. It’s something good for business that becomes easier. It doesn’t take much time and does not require rent for storage,” said Cyimanimpaye
“We now understand that WhatsApp groups can support and increase our business as online marketing. We have also received awareness on working with financial institutions.”
“I sell perishable vegetables but with this new digital knowledge, I will be able to take photos, post and make delivery at the right time, which is different from the way I was doing my business,” Gakure added.
For Juvenal Musine, the Programme Manager for Imbaraga Famers Organization, digital awareness “supports cross-border traders in information sharing and becoming professionals” for a profitable business.
According to Chief Information Officer for COMESA Business Council, Yoseph Wondimu, such capacity-building is “crucial to enable the wider adoption of digital financial services in the region.”
“A portion of these women lack access to smartphones but the majority of them have chosen to allocate their travel allowances from the training towards acquiring them,” he said.
He added that COMESA Business Council is actively involved in initiatives aimed at enhancing digital trade for cross-border traders.
The New Times