Happy New Year from the Sauti Team!
As we prepare to launch our platform, we are excited to have the results from our initial research and engagement with traders at the border. Entering 2017, we would like to thank our investors, partners and most importantly future platform users for supporting our vision!
Key Findings from Customer Discovery
Over the last four months, Sauti has been engaged in a process of customer discovery, involving both quantitative and qualitative fieldwork at Busia and Malaba border crossings. Through surveys, focus group discussions and informal conversations we have worked closely with the traders to develop a unique, mobile-based solution to the challenges they face. The information collected has informed the development of the Sauti platform, which we plan to launch early this year.
Some of the key findings from our research include:
- Cross-border traders regularly operate under challenging conditions due to the lack of reliable and accurate trade and market information, as well as the prevalence of corruption, harassment and other personal safety risks at borders.
- Despite the majority of the traders experiencing harassment and corruption, only 13% report such incidents due to fear of victimization and lack of appropriate avenues for reporting. All traders interviewed reported their willingness to report using the Sauti platform, which would enable them to make anonymous reports.
- The lack of reliable information particularly on tariffs, exchange rates, customs procedures, product standards and other regulations poses major challenges to traders’ ability to assert their rights and benefit from regional trade policy initiatives in the East African Community.
- Traders raised concerns about the lack of transparency surrounding trade and customs procedures, making them vulnerable to unnecessary transaction costs and exploitation by formal and informal personnel operating at the border.
- Traders acknowledged the value of understanding and using knowledge of customs protocol to engage in cross-border trade, both for increasing profits and reducing their exposure to the risks of using informal panya routes.
- With 81% of respondents owning only feature phones, the survey demonstrated the need for a simple, SMS-based solution that is accessible and affordable to traders.
- While testing the platform prototype, all traders showed great enthusiasm. Many expressed that use of the platform could solve the challenges they confront at the border crossings when faced with minimal information and limited mechanisms for reporting corruption and harassment. All of those who tested the platform expressed willingness to use and pay for the service.
Sauti was selected as one of ten finalists and the overall winner of the SME Empowerment category in the 2016 HiiL Innovating Justice Accelerator. In association with the World Economic Forum, the Ford Foundation, Thomson Reuters, and other partners, HiiL is working to improve access to justice for 40 million people by 2020.
Sauti was chosen based on the strength of our team, uniqueness and the ability to expand access to justice through a scalable, sustainable and innovative platform. We are very grateful to everyone who voted for us in the online campaign and supported us throughout the competition.
Sauti’s CEO spoke to the BBC World Service Tech Tent podcast about how our SMS-based platform enables cross-border traders to take advantage of the regional market & report incidents of corruption & harassment at borders.
Sauti was awarded 6 months of free office space at Nairobi Garage as part of the Women in Tech Pitch Competition. Our new address is:
Sauti East Africa Ltd.
M2 Floor, The Mirage