Last week Sauti soft launched their mobile platform designed to help enable legal, safe and profitable trade across borders in the East African Community, in Busia.
They spent the week training 40 Kenyan and Ugandan women cross border traders on the platform to ensure simple and straightforward user interaction. Starting with only 40 women, it has since exploded with 848 new requests for information, and out of 21 reports from the border they had 12 positive and only 9 negative reports.
It was designed with the idea that most East African phone users use their phones primarily for texting, and are well versed in sms menus and mobile top up services. The platform was built to function similarly.
Users can access the platform by texting ‘Sauti’ or a shortcut code to their local Sauti SMS shortcode number. You will then be greeted with a welcome menu with several options to access the desired information. To navigate the menus you simply text the corresponding numbers on the menu. To report incidents, you can either go through the menu and select the corresponding number or by texting the code ‘Report’ to the Sauti SMS shortcode. This ensures that cross-border traders can access information easily and securely.
They will be closely monitoring the initial trainees, to gain consistent insight through analytics and following up with the users on a regular basis. They will also be hosting a follow up session to gather further input on how the platform is serving their needs. Through this, they hope to create a mobile platform that is best suited to the users and ensuring the initial users are invested enough to serve as advocates for further use to future users.
If successful, they look forward to further collaboration with the border agencies, trade associations, and civil society organizations and are preparing official launch to traders at the Busia and Malaba borders. Some notable partners who ensured that this project lifts off are EASSI, the funders GIZ-EAC Incubator for Integration and Development in East Africa, the HiiL Innovating Justice Accelerator and D-Prize.
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