Bridging the Digital Divide for Women in Jiwa Community on International Day of Rural Women
To commemorate the International Day of Rural Women celebrated on October 15, 2023, Tech Herfrica deployed its transformative EquipHer4Growth initiative, targeting 150 women from Jiwa Village, located in the Federal Capital Territory. The primary goal of this project was to empower these women, predominantly engaged in farming and trade, with essential knowledge and skills to harness the potential of digital technology. Additionally, 15 clusters, each comprising ten women, were equipped with internet-enabled mobile devices to facilitate access to crucial information, expand their customer base, and effectively use financial services.
A preliminary assessment of the women in Jiwa Village revealed the following:
- Out of the 150 women, only 33 owned smartphones, and shockingly, just 10 of them utilized their phones for productive activities.
- None of the women had prior knowledge of e-commerce or its potential benefits for their businesses.
- While 105 of the 150 women had bank accounts, 139 possessed National Identity numbers.
- Remarkably, none of the women were aware of health insurance and its associated advantages.
- Nearly all the women expressed significant apprehension towards engaging in online trade.
Tech Herfrica adopted a comprehensive digital and financial literacy training program tailored to the specific needs and circumstances of the women in Jiwa Village. The training was delivered in both Pidgin English and Hausa to ensure effective communication.
Digital Literacy Training
- Women were introduced to the concept and advantages of e-commerce, emphasizing its potential to significantly enhance their businesses.
- Participants acquired the skills and knowledge required to connect to the internet securely, with a strong emphasis on online safety.
- The women were organized into 15 clusters, each comprising ten women, to facilitate practical sessions on using platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook for business purposes.
- Essential skills, such as capturing high-quality product images and crafting compelling product descriptions, were taught.
- For those with limited literacy, guidance was provided on utilizing voice functionality in devices.
- Participants learned how to access farming information, leverage Google Search, and employ voice-enabled features to their advantage.
- The need for forming groups or cooperatives to access financial services, including loans, agricultural insurance, and health insurance plans, was emphasized.
- Women were taught how to use basic phone applications, including calculators and radios.
- Collaborative efforts with male allies were discussed to promote inclusive growth in the community.
- The curriculum also included strategies to harness digital technology for climate change mitigation and improved agricultural productivity.
Financial Literacy Training
- The importance of savings was highlighted, and participants learned to differentiate between business and personal finances.
- Women were equipped with skills for calculating profits and maintaining proper financial records.
- The benefits of accessing financial services, such as loans and insurance, were explained, along with the requirements for access.
- Participants were educated on how to use their mobile devices to access financial services.
Impact and Outcomes
At the conclusion of the training program, substantial improvements were noted among the women:
- Improved Digital and Financial Literacy: 100 women (66.7%) reported enhanced digital and financial knowledge and skills.
- Increased Motivation to Leverage Digital Technology for Growth: 130 women (86.7%) expressed a heightened desire to use technology for business growth.
- Enhanced E-commerce Awareness: All participants gained knowledge on how to leverage e-commerce for business growth, with over 80% affirming newfound insights.
- Access to Smartphones: To further support their digital empowerment, 15 clusters were provided with internet-enabled smartphones, complete with startup data. This initiative positions them to reap the benefits of the digital economy, potentially increasing their income by at least 50%.
- Enhanced Trust in Conducting Online Activities: 86.67% of the women reported a boost in their trust and willingness to participate in online commerce and utilize technology for their advancement.
- Continuous monitoring of the clusters to ensure ongoing learning, support, and sustainability.
- Collaboration with financial partners to offer tailored financial services to the women.
- Facilitating access to internet-enabled devices for those without them.
Tech Herfrica remains committed to fostering economic growth and empowerment among rural women. This project signifies a significant stride towards achieving this mission and underscores the transformative power of digital and financial literacy. We are dedicated to building on this success and expanding our efforts to create more opportunities for rural women in the future.