Photo by Nathan Siegel



Don’t take harassment!
Cross-border trade is an important part of many African economies. International trade creates jobs and is a significant factor in ensuring food and energy security. However, getting people and goods across frontiers often implies a daunting level of bureaucracy for small traders who know little about the requirements of cross-border trade and, in particular, about the charges and the settlement procedures involved. This leaves the traders, most of whom (70%) are women, vulnerable to corrupt border guards, and women regularly report assaults and harassment at border controls.

The Kenyan start-up Sauti Africa Ltd works to protect retailers and inform them about their rights. Using an SMS-based platform, Sauti collects data and compiles statistics on harassment, bribery and other incidents experienced at individual border crossings and then publishes this information on its website. This not only raises public awareness about border issues but also increases the pressure on politicians to tackle the problem more effectively. In addition, Sauti provides traders with information on which documents are necessary, what customs duties are due and how they must be paid, and what customs officers are entitled to require and what they are not permitted to do.