Surveys and Stakeholder Mapping

Informal cross-border trade is a notoriously difficult space to map. However, Sauti’s mobile technology, combined with gender-sensitive approaches gives us a survey capacity with unprecedented reach and scale in the informal cross-border environment. Additionally, our penetration in cross-border trade networks provides a powerful asset with which to implement USSD and SMS surveys and rapidly process results.

With these methods we have contributed significant data-driven insights to academic and policy-oriented audiences.

Our methodology implements:

  1. Mobile-data collection on the capabilities and challenges of cross-border traders;
  2. Interviews and workshops to provide first-hand accounts of cross-border traders’ challenges experiences and perspectives;
  3. Interdisciplinary insights from expert practitioners working in the EAC to ground insights in practical contexts.

Enhancing Informal Cross-Border Trade Data

Sauti’s Informal Cross-border Trade Database offers an expansive array of data points on key demographic, trade, and information demand attributes gathered from approximately 17110 cross-border traders across East Africa.



Presentation to Sustainable Inclusive Aid for Trade Symposium, Innovating Past Data Collection Obstacles for East Africa’s Women Cross-Border Traders: Evidence from Sauti East Africa, 19 Sept 2019 – Nairobi Kenya

This research proposes an experimental survey methodology for hidden populations, such as cross-border traders (CBTs) in East Africa. Recognizing the empowering role of cross-border trade for women in East Africa, interventions that reduce gendered barriers to small-scale trade are increasingly sought-after by policy-makers and development practitioners. Yet, collecting data that reliably maps the behaviour of difficult to sample populations, such as women CBTs, has typically proven to be a challenging exercise for researchers, policy-makers, and solution designers. We employ Sauti’s platform’s user interaction data to analyze how CBTs prioritize different types of business information and the demographic effects on business information needs.

Sauti Africa - WEB - Customer Discovery Report-fp-sm

Customer Discovery Report: Understanding how to harness mobile technology to address the challenges of cross-border trade in East Africa

This Customer Discovery Report offers initial perspectives on the development of an SMS and USSD platform developed by Sauti Africa for use by any cross-border trader with a simple feature phone. By innovating a series of automated text-based interactions, Sauti has the potential to leverage the ubiquity of mobile phones in the EAC to enhance the delivery of trade information available to cross-border SMEs. The platform will enable small-scale traders to conveniently access trade and market information relating to clearing procedures, documentation, and taxes applicable to their products, cross-border commodity prices and exchange rates. Traders will also be able to use the platform to anonymously report incidents of bribery and harassment at borders.


Impacts of Non-Tariff Barriers for Women Small Scale Cross-Border Traders on the Kenya-Uganda Border

For women, small-scale cross-border trade has played an empowering role in the alleviation of poverty in East Africa. However, women crossborder traders face distinct constraints and challenges when trading across East Africa’s borders. Information asymmetry between crossborder traders and border officials regarding procedural information and duties creates an economic environment of risk and uncertainty. Bribery and corruption is exacerbated among women traders by gender-based harassment and threats to personal safety. Focus group discussions and surveys at the Busia and Malaba border crossings suggest that the time, effort, and resources spent by women cross-border traders to balance non-tariff barriers exacts a significant business cost and adversely affects their economic behaviour in the East African cross-border regime.