East African MSMEs face several obstacles to access information they need to trade safely, legally, and profitably. Information such as market prices, trade regulations, and social services may be available online or using digital apps, but East Africa’s MSMEs still face significant challenges accessing these resources due to poor digital literacy, lack of smartphones, and costly internet. A significant gender divide also exists, which disproportionately impacts women’s capacity to make informed and competitive business decisions, negotiate fair deals, and participate effectively in East Africa’s trade activities.

Since 2017, Sauti’s trade and market information platforms in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania have been implemented to address inequitable barriers that prevent MSMEs from accessing market, trade, and social services information. This report presents our impact monitoring and user behaviour insights from Sauti’s mobile information platform based on usage between 1 July to 30 September, 2023.

2023 Q3 saw 7,168 new users access all our regional platforms. Our Kenyan platform saw the majority of growth. For any questions about our data please contact

Sauti's Impact Over Q3 2023

Improving equitable access to information for MSME cross-border traders, farmers, and transporters enhances their ability to make informed choices, navigate challenges, and contribute to economic growth and development in East Africa. Sauti’s work researching and evaluating our interventions that target information asymmetries means that we have developed a comprehensive impact monitoring framework for our mobile-based information platforms. We present some of those impact figures below, which quantify the economic and social dimensions of Sauti’s solutions over the quarter. Contact us for more details about our impact.

2,836 women-led MSMEs saved approx. USD $137 in internet, phone, and airtime fees
13,442 women and children with improved economic outlooks
Approx. $388,532 was saved IN MSME’s INFORMATION SEARCH COSTS
166 women MSMEs traded in new marketplaces, increasing supply chain resilience
$429,296 more profit was Generated by East African Farmers, Traders, and Transporters
233 MSMEs EXPANDED THEIR BUSSINESs TO INCLUDE NEW products, increasING their economic resilience
7,666 MSMEs increased their sales by 20%, approx. 400$ over the quarter
2,587 MSMEs have improved access to official border crossing and formalization information
1,986 cross-border traders are more likely to engage in formal trade routes, compared to informal routes

Sauti's New Users Over Q3 2023

Sauti engages several channels of communication to spread awareness of our information platforms throughout the region. For instance, we work with local organizations, such as trade and business associations, to train their members and we also run radio campaigns that focus on the platforms’ benefits to women and rural populations. However, the largest driving force for user acquisition at Sauti is word-of-mouth, where traders and farmers spread the word through their own communities.





New Users, by Country

Users' Language Selection





What do users search for?

Sauti’s information platforms offer a wide selection of relevant and useful information to small-scale traders and farmers. The charts below show the popularity of each information section for each country platform. We often find that the most dynamic information, such as market prices or weather, are the most popular as this information may change on a daily basis.





How do users use market information?

Sauti’s penetration among East Africa’s traders and farmers means that we have a unique insight into how these populations market their goods and earn their livelihoods. By exploring how Sauti’s platform use the market information that is provided by the information, we can develop a complex picture of the prominent value-chains in the region. We explore this data more fully in our Trade Insights report series and in our Trade Insights data portal.

Users' Most Requested Product Categories

The categories below show the top 98 percent of commodity categories requested for each country. The remaining commodity categories with fewer requests are not shown on the graph.

Users' Top Three Requested Products by Country

Commodity price indices help traders and farmers to know whether to respond to price signals by either shifting consumption and trade patterns or respond by increasing production to meet demand. The top three requested commodity prices by country have been displayed below.

  1. Dry Maize (18%)
  2. Beef (7%)
  3. Beans Rosecoco (6%)

(n = 4,722)

  1. Dry Maize (22%)
  2. Beans (19%)
  3. Soya Beans (5%)

(n = 1,270)

  1. Beans (26%)
  2. Black Beans (Dolichos) (15%)
  3. Rice (9%)

(n = 142)

  1. Rice (26%)
  2. Dry Maize (22%)
  3. Beans (19%)

(n = 182)

Users' Requests for Commodity Prices in Cross-Border Markets

Changes in commodity prices at domestic and cross-border markets can be useful indicators of levels of supply and demand and linkages to the trade flows in commodities and services that connect the East African trade environment. The charts below show the searches by users for commodity prices in domestic and cross-border markets.





What currencies do users exchange?

Exchanging currencies in East Africa’s cross-border markets is a key part of buying and selling goods across borders. Importantly, international and local fluctuations in currency rates can significantly influence the profit margins of small-scale traders. The charts below highlight popular conversions conversions among users and give an indication of the balance of cross-border currency flows.

  1. KES ⇒ UGX (22%)
  2. KES ⇒ TZS (15%)
  3. UGX ⇒ KES (12%)

(n = 5,294)

  1. KES ⇒ UGX (31%)
  2. UGX ⇒ KES (27%)
  3. USD ⇒ UGX (16%)

(n = 2,011)

  1. RWF ⇒ UGX (20%)
  2. RWF ⇒ TZS (13%)
  3. RWF ⇒ KES (12%)

(n = 96)

  1. USD ⇒ TZS (39%)
  2. KES ⇒ TZS (14%)
  3. TZS ⇒ USD (13%)

(n = 150)

What is the experience of traders crossing East Africa's borders?

Lengthy customs procedures, inadequate infrastructure, and corrupt practices can cause delays at border crossings. Traders may experience long queues, inefficient inspections, and demands for bribes, which can also disrupt their operations and increase costs. Below we report the relative frequency of border crossing reports submitted by users at select border locations in East Africa.