In a significant stride towards advancing financial inclusion and fostering digital innovation, the COMESA Business Council (CBC) has proudly announced the reception of a £70,000 grant from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office through the British High Commission in Lusaka. This grant marks a pivotal moment in the journey towards propelling Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) into the digital age across the COMESA region.
The grant comes as a resounding endorsement of CBC’s flagship Digital Financial Inclusion Program for MSMEs. This visionary initiative aims to revolutionize the landscape of digital financial services, specifically tailored to benefit MSMEs and the customers they serve at the base of the financial pyramid.
Central to the program’s success is the development of a regional digital retail payments platform, one that is not only low-cost and interoperable, but also inherently resistant to fraud. With MSMEs forming the bedrock of the economy and often led by women in agro-industry and trade, the program strives to empower and uplift these crucial players by transforming them into dynamic participants in the digital marketplace.
This innovative platform promises to streamline transactions, promote transparency, and usher in a new era of efficiency for MSMEs. By lowering transaction costs and providing real-time financial capabilities, the platform is poised to foster increased volumes of intra-COMESA trade and cross-border transactions.
However, this transformative vision necessitates a comprehensive digital payments policy framework that addresses key areas such as consumer protection, electronic transactions, and data privacy. The grant from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office will be instrumental in bridging this gap, supporting the policy framework’s development and domestication. This proactive step is expected to ensure that the vast potential of the COMESA Digital Retail Payments Platform is fully realized by MSMEs in Zambia.
As the program unfolds, it is anticipated that MSMEs will be equipped with a powerful tool to transition from cash-based operations to digital markets. This evolution holds the promise of affordability, transparency, and interoperability, thereby contributing to the growth of both individual businesses and the overall regional economy.
The CBC’s visionary Digital Financial Inclusion Program is set to redefine the landscape of financial services for MSMEs. Through the establishment of a digitally inclusive regional payments platform, the program envisions a future where MSMEs are not only empowered but also seamlessly integrated into the digital fabric of the COMESA community. The stage is now set for a transformative journey towards economic progress, empowerment, and shared prosperity.