Uhuru Market, Nairobi’s oldest textile market launched in 1976, is the 1st open-air market in Kenya to launch an online shopping site to bring together traders within the market to sell their products online.
Backed by Heva Fund, the market aims to strengthen the local economy via the value system of “Buy Kenya, Build Kenya”.
According to HEVA Fund Managing Partner, George Gachara, “Transformations in the landscape of trade and technology have fundamentally altered the way Kenyans purchase and consume goods and services, especially with the critical migration onto the online space catalysed by the COVID-19 pandemic. E-commerce has also proven essential due to convenience and easier adherence to social distancing rules,” said
Heva Fund is working with the traders of Uhuru Market, and Kenya’s National Government’s SMEs Advisory Unit to enable over 1,000 micro, small and medium-sized fashion and apparel producers and retailers to reach more customers.
Uhurumarket.co.ke was co-developed with Vivo Activewear Ltd and will allow shoppers to conveniently search and shop for a wide range of products from select stores in the open-air market. Customers can also visit its physical customer care center to address customer inquiries or call the dedicated hotline number; +254 740 821 990, or via email to [email protected].
Working with a network of riders and other delivery partners, the platform will fulfill customer orders within 24 – 48 hours after order placement, at an affordable fee within Nairobi and across the country.
The digital platform is addressing the constraints of the garment and textile value chains within the market ecosystem and help them to formalize their trade with a view to promoting the ideals of “Buy Kenya, Build Kenya”.
Uhuru Market traders continually face numerous challenges including limited and unsustainable market access, competition from other structured local private manufacturers, and operational challenges, as well as limited access to credit facilities through SME funds, credit guarantees, and LPO financing from banks.
“The market rehabilitation efforts will drive access to public services, as well as firm-level support to reduce inefficiencies, increase value addition and increase value chain integration and market access, as well as increase direct and institutional financing to this subsector and its practitioners.”
“Businesses looking to set themselves up for long-term success should increase digitization, improve supply chain resilience, and redesign their business strategy,” Mr Gachara added.
At the same time, to ensure quality and to drive sustainability of the program, HEVA has forged a partnership with the Technical University of Kenya for capacity building. Uhuru Market traders have been equipped with digital, business, and technical skills such as Garment Design and Construction, Bag Design, and the Basics of Quality Control as part of capacity building.
HEVA has also registered over 1,000 traders into the Kenya Fashion Council (KFCO) through a group membership subscription. This deal will see the market be able to contribute to critical conversations around the growth of the textiles and garment industry in the country. It will also allow traders to benefit from the business opportunities extended to the council by both the private and public sectors.
The funds will also be used to registrer traders for NHIF and NSSF as well as digitize Jormat SACCO from an analog system to a digital paperless system.
The market will continue to offer quality products through the online platform, such as men’s and women’s corporate uniforms, school uniforms, and kids and baby wear, among other accessories, as it aims to diversify its production. The traders will be supported in their role of supplying affordable clothing to Kenyans of all walks of life, and providing gainful, decent, and sustainable employment to the community to drive economic growth and foster inclusive trade.