The initiative will empower vulnerable groups and those hardest hit in the informal trade sector such as women, youth and persons with disabilities by connecting them with potential buyers, provide employment and mitigate effects of COVID-19 on the economy.
Kampala- Uganda: The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with Jumia Food Uganda, the leading e-commerce company in the country, have launched an e-commerce platform to sustain supply chains for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and connect them with consumers online to sustain livelihoods as part of the response to the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. In view of restrictions on movement and social distancing guidelines which were instituted as part of the measures to curtail further transmission of the disease, digital solutions offer some of the most powerful avenues to address current market challenges while boosting online trading and marketing.
This initiative is a strategic opportunity to empower vulnerable groups and those hardest hit in the informal trade sector such as women, youth and persons with disabilities by connecting them with potential buyers. It will also connect rural farmers with the urban markets, keep the supply chain for agricultural produce active and provide employment and mitigate effects of the COVID-19 on the economy.
The lockdown measures such as restrictions on movement and stay-at-home guidelines have impacted business flow, cut off hundreds of informal market vendors from their usual customers, affecting incomes and straining sustenance of livelihoods, with many struggling to stay afloat. The lockdown also disrupted trade and affected business operations and supply chains of key sectors of the economy.
The innovative e-commerce platform will benefit vendors in five (5) markets; Nakasero, Nakawa, Wandegeya, Bugolobi and Kalerwe, all in Kampala city. UNDP will provide smartphones, airtime and data to be used by the market vendors and, importantly, support the strengthening of an innovation ecosystem around e-commerce.
On their part, Jumia Food will avail its dedicated ordering platform via app and website that includes a last-mile distribution network, diverse set of payment methods, quality assurance and facilitation of training for the vendors.
E-commerce has come and it will never go away
While officiating at the launch held at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, the Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives; Hon. Amelia Kyambadde, welcomed the initiative, saying that it will create convenient shopping, promote the growth of the ICT industry and usage, and contribute to the decongestion of cities and markets.
“One of the lessons we have learnt is that e-commerce has come and it will never go away,” Kyambadde said.
The minister also urged Ugandans and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to embrace the digital economy to connect businesses with a diverse customer base, “We cannot continue to sit and wait for consumers or even customers to find us in our markets; we need to go online to enable our customers and buyers to place orders so that goods and services find them in the comfort of their homes or offices. This is the new reality!”
On her part, the UNDP Resident Representative, Ms. Elsie Attafuah, said the partnership with Jumia Food will provide, “a safe, convenient and fast service to the citizens of Uganda while boosting trade.”
She said the offer is part of UNDP’s broader effort to deploy digital solutions for business continuity through e-governance and e-commerce, as Uganda responds to the current disruptions and pressures caused by the coronavirus disease pandemic. Such innovations, she noted, will also support the eventual realization of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement by connecting Uganda to markets in the region.
“COVID-19 presents not only a health but also a humanitarian and development crisis that is threatening to leave deep social, economic and political scars for years. It is, therefore, important to build the national capacity to harness the digital economy to expand e-commerce to support supply chains to enable business continuity, support livelihoods and enable early recovery from the pandemic,” Ms. Attafuah added.
Stay Home and Shop services made possible.
UNDP’s offer to the COVID-19 pandemic is three-pronged; entailing supporting countries to prepare, respond and recover from the COVID-19 crisis. At the heart of this, is concrete partnership and dynamic collaborations with both state and non-state actors including the private sector.
Jumia Uganda Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mr. Ron Kawamara said both the market vendors and the buyers will find it easy to use the Jumia Food Vendor App and will offer the consumers a convenient, “Stay Home and Shop” service. “E-commerce digital platforms like Jumia are at the forefront of providing the informal sector and SMEs solutions to keep running and reaching customers during the COVID-19 crisis,” Mr. Kawamara commented. “We are very excited to partner with UNDP and offer our platform, delivery tools, training and experience to market vendors to access consumers in need of fresh produce and for consumers to be able to access the produce safely,” he added.
Market vendors welcome the offer
The market vendors have warmly received the digital offer, saying it will sustain and expand their businesses. Bosco Kitone, one of the market vendors in Nakasero market, said, “Technology is really going to help us. People don’t have to come to us; they order for goods online and we deliver. So, we are really happy with this initiative.”
Joyce Kisaakye, a trader specialising in fruits, said that faced with lockdown measures like the stay-at-home guidelines that have been instituted to suppress further spread of the disease, the offer will keep informal sector players like her in business. She used the occasion to ask people to eat plenty of fruits which are some of the food items recommended to boost people’s immunity.
Key to the growth of e-commerce is accessibility and affordability of internet. The Executive Director of the National Information Technology Authority Uganda (NITA-U) James Saaka revealed that said that government is doing all it takes to lower the cost of internet in Uganda.
How it works
The model employs market agents who validate the goods and services before they are dispatched. The agents ascertain that the goods meet the requisite quality, are hygienic and securely packaged to ensure customer satisfaction and safety. Jumia will use its infrastructure, which includes riders trained to provide safe and contactless deliveries, to reach customers who are currently under lockdown. Consumers will have an option of giving feedback on the level of satisfaction of both the product and the service through the Jumia Vendor App.
For media inquiries, please contact:
1. Michael Mubangizi, Communications Analyst, UNDP Uganda. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: 0772 147564
2. Samantha Abaho, PR Manager, Jumia Uganda, Email: email@example.com, Tel: 0776 448941