May 13, 2020

COVID-19: Inside UNDP, JUMIA Uganda partnership to link market vendors to consumers online


Jumia CEO Kawamara, Minister Kyambadde and UNDP Officials at the Launch

Kampala – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with Jumia Uganda, the leading e-commerce company is running an e-commerce platform to sustain supply chains for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and connect them with consumers online to sustain livelihoods as part of the response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

This initiative is a strategic prospect to empower vulnerable groups and those hardest hit in the informal trade sector such as women, youth and persons with disabilities by connecting them with potential buyers.

It will also connect rural farmers with the urban markets, keeping the supply chain for agricultural produce active and providing employment and mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 on the economy.

While officiating at the launch held at the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Co-operatives – with strict adherence of social distancing requirements, the Minister of Trade, industry and Cooperatives; Hon. Amelia Kyambadde welcomed the UNDP-Jumia Uganda partnership saying,

“This initiative will create convenient shopping, promote the growth of the ICT industry and usage, contribute to the decongestion and transformation of Kampala into a smart city that will be pleasant for all Ugandans and our visitors, the tourists.”

Kyambadde also challenged Ugandans and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to embrace the digital economy to connect businesses with a diverse customer base,

“We cannot continue to sit and wait for consumers or even customers to find us in our markets; we need to go online to enable our customers and buyers to place orders and goods and services find them in the comfort of their homes or offices’’, she added.

Jumia Uganda Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Ron Kawamara, said both the market vendors and the buyers will find it easy to use the Jumia Food Vendor App and will offer the consumers a convenient, “Stay Home and Shop” service.

“E-commerce digital platforms like Jumia are at the forefront of providing the informal sector and SMEs solutions to keep running and reaching customers during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Kawamara.

“We are very excited to partner with UNDP and offer our platform,
delivery tools, training and experience to market vendors to access
consumers in need of fresh produce and for consumers to be able to
access the produce, safely,” he added.

On her part, the UNDP Resident Representative, Elsie Attafuah said that the partnership with Jumia Food will provide, “a safe, convenient and fast service to the citizens of Uganda while boosting trade.”

She revealed that the offer is part of UNDP’s broader effort to deploy digital solutions for business continuity through e-governance and
e-commerce, as Uganda, responds to the current disruptions and pressures caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Such innovations, she noted, will also support the eventual realization of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (ACfTA) Agreement by connecting Uganda to markets in the region.

UNDP’s offer to the COVID-19 Response is three-pronged entailing supporting countries to prepare, respond and recover from the COVID-19 crisis and at the heart of this, is a concrete partnership and dynamic collaborations with both state and non-state actors including the private sector.

According to experts, in view of restrictions on movement and social
distancing guidelines were instituted as part of the measures to curtail further transmission of the disease, digital solutions offer some of the most powerful avenues to address current market challenges while boosting online trading and marketing.

“COVID-19 presents not only health but also a humanitarian and
development crisis that is threatening to leave deep social, economic
and political scars for years. It is therefore important to build the national capacity to harness the digital economy to expand e-commerce to support supply chains to enable business continuity, support livelihoods and enable early recovery from the Pandemic,” Ms. Attafuah
added.

The innovative e-commerce platform will benefit vendors in five (5)
markets; Nakasero, Nakawa, Wandegeya, Bugolobi and Kalerwe, all in
Kampala city. UNDP will provide smart phones, airtime and data to be
used by the market vendors, and importantly, support the strengthening
of an innovation ecosystem around e-commerce.

The lockdown measures such as restrictions on movement, stay at home
guidelines have impacted business flow, cut off hundreds of informal market vendors from their usual customers, affecting incomes and straining sustenance of livelihoods, with many struggling to stay afloat.

The lockdown also disrupted trade and affected business operations and supply chains of key sectors of the economy.

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