An e-commerce training that aims to reach 25,000 female entrepreneurs across the city was kicked off with the technical support of Elebat, a company working on digital finance and literacy. The project will train entrepreneurs under the Ethiopian Women Entrepreneurs Association's network in the capital within a year.

The training comes in two phases: capacity building on financial access and management and customised door-to-door engagement on digital finance. The pilot phase will target 5,000 women and is expected to enhance market access across the country for entrepreneurs. Over 300 trainers are involved in the project, which has strengthened inter-country trade within the continent as a component of its long-term vision.

Elebat, engaged in mobilising, selecting and profiling the participants, is tasked with customising the training packages, according to Netsanet Raya, CEO of the company.

The application developed by Elebat, Africanby, will avail access to suppliers, details of delivery and location, as well as policy features on purchases the entrepreneurs make from suppliers. It is intended to reach women in rural settings as well.

On its part, the Association will make use of its 285 branches across the country to create the linkages necessary. The training will encompass startup, small and medium scale enterprises, as well as export level manufacturers.

Elebat, which has partnered with 14 banks in digital financial services in the past, will leverage the partnerships for this project as well. The company launched "Tifozo," an integrated digital sports platform in collaboration with the Ethiopia Coffee Sports Club and the Ethiopia Coffee Sports Club Fans Association in August 2018.

The motive behind this lies in the fact that Ethiopia is lagging behind countries in the region in e-commerce, according to Engedaye Eshete, president of the Association, which has 270,000 members.

"Digitisation is more relevant than ever, considering the country is entering into trading pacts with the rest of the continent," she said. "This will also alleviate the burden on women. Building capacity is essential to create an environment in which this can happen."

Acclimating the entrepreneurs to digitise their financial management can go a long way, according to experts in the field. This can enable them access and allow them to monitor their finances through devices so long as they can read and write, according to Nebiat Tekle, an expert in digital banking with 11 years of experience.

"Business and financial management training are essential for calculating profit margins, which in turn can give them eligibility for loans," he explained.

But challenges are easy to spot in a country where e-commerce is still in its infancy, according to Nebiat.

A platform where this can all happen, like Africanby in this case, is essential; however, supply chain links between the traders and suppliers are non-existent, according to Nebiat.

Despite this, where there are multiple options in place, agency banking can be an advantage.

"The women can work as agents and through that be able to supplement their income," he said. "They'll also introduce and avail this to their communities."

The expert cited as an example the city of Jijiga in Somali Regional State, where a substantial portion of the population uses mobile money. Still, he stressed that establishing partnerships with Banks is essential.

PUBLISHED ON Feb 20,2021 [ VOL 21 , NO 1086]

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