A curated community
for SMEs trading in
Africa and beyond.
The transformation of Africa is not one man’s job. It is a job for all of us, and by empowering our entrepreneurs we can build and secure Africa’s future.
Jamii is a Swahili word meaning “community”, and JamiiTrade is a digital application developed by a collective, for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs, to convene a trade community. It’s an SMEs’ trade community where challenges, experiences and best practice of cross border trade is shared, and a body of knowledge and information is built to provide data that can influence policy change, create new markets and provide new opportunities for the African SMEs.
SME businesses account for almost 90% of businesses in both leading and developing economies. African SMEs conservatively contribute almost 60% to the African GDP, and are the economic engine that can forever change the continent by driving economic growth. The opportunity of cross-border trade, unparalleled globally, provides opportunities of growth and sustainability. However, the biggest barriers to realising this potential and capitalising on building economic success is the lack of centralised, relevant, easily accessible information for enterprises that can engage and create their own trade community, draw experiences and challenges, share best practice and grow intra-Africa and global trade.
The Pan African Chamber of Commerce (PACCI) and the Shared Value Africa Initiative (SVAI) identified the gaps in information lack of user-friendly, easily accessible trade information for our SMEs. This resulted in an information gap and lack of knowledge on the opportunities of cross border and international trade and accessing new markets.
Enter JamiiTrade, the go-to community and information platform for SMEs looking to trade across borders – a trusted and credible network and potential source of data and insights that connects business and policymakers.
Did you know? MSMEs constitute 80% of African enterprises.
Africa has the highest percentage of entrepreneurs among working-age adults of any continent in the world. (TEF Report)
48% of Nigeria's national GDP is contributed by SMEs, these account for 96% of businesses and 84% of employment. (PWC Report)
91% of businesses in South Africa, are SMEs, 60% of employment, and contribute 52% of total GDP. (PWC Report)
By 2050, Africa's youth population is projected to reach 460 million people, 6 times the size of the youth population of Europe.
AfCFTA connects 1.3 billion people across 55 countries - a combined GDP of $3.4 trillion.
Businesses less than 5 years old, with fewer than 20 workers, offer the majority of jobs across the continent. (TEF Report)
Evaluating Obstacles for SMEs
Evaluating the knowledge gap on the AfCFTA, within the African entrepreneurship community, was the foundation for the development of JamiiTrade.
At the beginning of July 2021, SVAI commissioned research through diiVe – represented by a group of international students – to better understand the barriers for entrepreneurs in participation in the AfCFTA, and what would be required to address these for the benefit of SMEs. By evaluate the existing knowledge gap and the challenges faced by these enterprises, we were able to understand what was needed, and how we could best deliver to them.
The findings highlighted that, even though most know about the AfCFTA’ s main idea and objectives, they are not aware of how it affects their businesses. A common misconception the team heard during the research findings interviews was the perception that the AfCFTA only applied to governments and big companies.
Some interviewees also talked about how the agreement sounds great on paper, but they are finding it difficult to see how it will be implemented to the extent that its impact will be felt by small businesses like theirs.
Ultimately, while key drivers of the AfCFTA – private sector, governments and the development community – all agree as to its potential as a game changer for the African economy, it is through efficient inclusion and participation of SMEs that is can truly transform the continent. JamiiTrade will reach this goal, not just for the AfCFTA but trading across borders overall.
100% of Africa Entrepreneurship Forum attendees in May 2021 indicated that they needed more information on the AfCFTA.
Invest for impact and contribute to Africa’s economic growth
Without credible, centralised, easily accessible information, African entrepreneurs will not benefit from AfCFTA and any other continental and international trade; economic growth will be stifled; and Africa’s potential will be an unrealised dream.
Trade Background & Setting
What is the AfCFTA?
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement will create a single market for goods, services, facilitated by movement of persons in order to deepen the economic integration of the African continent and in accordance with the Pan African Vision of “An integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa”.
What does the continental and international trade mean for SMEs and MSMEs?
Being an entrepreneur in Africa requires a great deal of perseverance, networking and passion and the African youth dividend is an opportunity for the continent to be the big global growth area. The economic environment in many African countries is not well developed and lacks a thriving support ecosystem to support our startups and SMEs.
"If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves."