An increase in export and import activity across Africa regions will go a long way towards igniting economic growth on the continent. The reality, however, is that the continent’s share of global trade stands at only 3% despite accounting for 11% of the world’s population.
For this to be corrected, we need to remove the common constraints to trade that prevent small- to medium-sized business in Africa from taking advantage of growth-enhancing opportunities on the continent and beyond.
Standard Bank has developed digital solutions that are easy to access, simplify the trade process and reduce high costs associated with trade for SMEs across Africa regions.
For example, an entrepreneur who wants to expand operations into other markets may not possess the knowledge to find trusted suppliers or buyers. This is where Standard Bank’s Trade Club becomes particularly useful.
Available to business clients of Standard Bank at no cost, this innovative digital networking platform connects buyers and sellers from 50 countries around the world. Trade Club gives SMEs and corporate clients a wealth of relevant international trade expertise, tools and services, as well as the opportunity to connect with trusted partners in new markets.
Once a business becomes an exporter or importer of a certain product or service, they need to prepare for transacting using international currencies. This can be difficult in Africa where many countries have strict foreign exchange controls or in China where there is limited acceptance of Visa and Mastercard cards.
In a bid to solve this challenge, Standard Bank launched the Shyft forex app, which allows anyone with a Standard Bank account to buy foreign currency and store forex of up to R1 million in forex per year.
The app takes the pain out of foreign currency exchange, which typically requires having to physically visit a bank branch, by allowing customers to make transfers on the app at any time of the day, seven days a week, from anywhere in the world at a competitive rate.
From a country-specific perspective, in Uganda, we launched a platform in partnership with Traydstream, which has digitized the manual process of vetting letters of trade checks.
Traydstream’s one-stop-shop for processing enables business clients in Uganda to speed up processing time, mitigate risk with thorough trade checks as well as improve the transparency of transactions through an aggregated compliance module.