The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Business Council (CBC), a private sector association comprising investors involved in exporting and importing across the 19-member bloc on Tuesday launched the digital financial inclusion project for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

CBC CEO Sandra Uware said the project has secured 150 million shillings (1.5 million U.S. dollars) grant which has been spread across for the year 2019/2020.

“The project will enhance cross border transactions available for SMEs with a vision of integrating into larger supply chains of bigger companies,” Uware said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

The first phase of the project which is ongoing in 10 countries involves a feasibility study which focuses on a clear objective to establish a common payment policy and facilitate technical support.

“Traditional methods of trade on hard cash exchange will be cost effectively migrated towards digital solutions and this goes to support efficient and lower risk payments contributing to the financial strength of SMEs,” the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) chairman Sachen Gudka said.

“In the end, the payment policy that we are working on will be considered and adopted between bank retailers and will be harmonized. These should be able to address some of the challenges SMEs are facing on financial literacy,” CBC chairperson Marday Venkatasamy said.

According to CBC, about 80 percent of the business community in COMESA is governed by SMEs while a large number rely on cross border trading relationship.

The digital platform for SMEs goes beyond facilitating affordable and real time transactions to include strengthening the visibility and promotion of products and services for the market segment within the COMESA region. Enditem


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