Sauti Trade Insights COVID-19 Bulletin

  • Date Posted: December 17, 2020
  • Authors: Lance Hadley
  • Organizations/Projects: Sauti East Africa
  • Document Types: Evidence or Research


Sauti Trade Insights COVID-19 Bulletin

COVID-19 has imposed extreme challenges for East Africa’s micro and small enterprise traders. The Sauti Trade Insights COVID-19 Bulletin leverages Sauti East Africa's unique analytical perspective to document traders’ changes in business behaviour in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We present key findings on the economic impacts of COVID-19 on traders, drawing on behavioural insights from our mobile-based market information platforms in Kenya and Rwanda. 

The market and trade information requested by users, joined with supplementary demographic user data, gives us unprecedented opportunities to present near real-time findings on business behaviour, such as top traded commodities and market destinations. Further, the longitudinal nature of the data allows us to identify significant shifts in business behaviour, including before and after the onset of COVID-19 in Q1 and Q2 2020.

Key findings:

  • Most significantly, we identify a regional decline in cross-border market destinations and an increase in local market destinations, likely a reflection of national restrictions on cross-border movements.
  • In Kenya, we show that female traders have been hit harder by the shocks of the pandemic as compared to male traders. Additionally, while the prevalence of traders’ trading in maize cereals is down across the board, the increase in women trading in fruits suggests the presence of an economic lifeline with significant gendered considerations.

Ultimately, our objective is to shed light on this often hard-to-sample population and highlight the differentiated impacts of COVID-19 between harder-to-sample demographics. It is these traders, most impacted by the shock of COVID-19, which will require the greatest support to recover from the effects of this global pandemic.

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