The Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) has partnered with TradeMark Africa (TMA) to host a digital trade dialogue event for the integrated women’s trade information platform iSOKO.

The one-day event, to be held in Nairobi on 12 June, will bring together micro, small and medium enterprises and key stakeholders from government, trade organizations, the private sector, and development partners.

The event aims to showcase the transformative impact of iSOKO and foster collaborative dialogue to address the critical issues hindering women in the digital space.

Launched in 2023, iSOKO is a web and mobile platform for women traders that provides a regional marketplace to buy and sell goods, obtain vital trade and market information, and gain access to business management tools that include bookkeeping. It also provides networking opportunities with fellow traders. This innovative tool is part of TradeMark Africa’s Women in Trade programme.

The iSOKO platform is therefore a critical response to limited digital literacy, unequal access to technology, and a lack of readily available market information. Apart from Kenya, the platform is also operational in four other East African countries – Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi. The Kenyan chapter of iSOKO is hosted by KNCCI.

The theme of the digital trade dialogue will be, “Powering Trade in East Africa Through Digital Inclusion.” The event will showcase iSOKO’s digital skilling initiatives and their impact on empowering women entrepreneurs for digital trade; identify key challenges and opportunities for women-led businesses in the digital space; and explore opportunities for collaboration in digital financial services and payments.

It will also address key policy and regulatory issues faced in implementing iSOKO. Additionally, it will facilitate knowledge exchange and collaboration among stakeholders to enhance digital readiness and competitiveness in trade.

Speakers at the meeting will include the Principal Secretary in the State Department of Information Communication Technology and Digital Economy Eng. John Tanui, KNCCI President Dr Erick Rutto, and TMA Country Director Ahmed Farah.

“This important event will serve to increase awareness of iSOKO and its benefits for women-led businesses in digital trade,” said Dr Rutto. “The resulting knowledge exchange and collaboration will be useful for empowering businesses in the digital space.”

On his part, Mr Farah said that stakeholders at the event will be expected to come up with far-reaching recommendations for addressing policy and regulatory issues related to the implementation of iSOKO. “This will entail, first, the identification of key challenges and opportunities for women in digital trade. There will also be room to explore collaboration opportunities in digital financial services and payments.”

The iSOKO portal provides free access to regionals traders who wish to register. The project is expected to go a long way in increasing the trade value and incomes of women traders across the region, especially those engaged in informal trade and who therefore suffer low values and volumes.

The platform also contains functions that enable women in trade share information that may assist other women and even authorities deal with issues around abuse and harassment at borders in an anonymous way.