Empowering Young Girls and Women through the ScaleHer Initiative

1.0 Background

On Tuesday, November 22, 2023, the ScaleHer programme was launched in Kabusa Community, involving 10 young girls, each equipped with diverse vocational skills.

The ScaleHer programme, a collaborative initiative between Tech Herfrica and FIST Africa, is designed to empower young girls in rural and underserved communities in Africa, starting with Nigeria. Through the integrating of digital technology and financial inclusion, the program aims to provide beneficiaries with business-building knowledge, digital tools, and literacy in both the digital and financial domains, as well as access to smartphones, internet service and finance to establish sustainable businesses in the digital economy.

The inaugural project, conducted in the Kabusa community, consisted of three main components: capacity building (digital and financial literacy and business building training), a start-up grant for one young girl, and the provision of smartphones and start-up data for all participants.

2.0 Project Implementation

2.1 Key Findings

In the initial discussions with the young girls, the following information emerged:

  1. In terms of access to digital technology, six girls owned smartphones, while four did not.
  2. Even with 60% of them possessing smartphones, their utilization was restricted to basic functions that could be achieved with feature phones. The participants were not fully maximizing the advantages of owning a smartphone.
  3. The beneficiaries, although young adults and digital natives, exhibited limited exposure to concepts such as e-commerce and the full potential of the digital space.
  4. Hairdressing skills were possessed by 7 girls, catering skills by 2, and fashion design skills by 1.
  5. Only four had initiated their businesses, while others attributed their business delays to a lack of capital.
  6. Regarding financial access, 8 girls had bank accounts, while 2 did not.
  7. National identification numbers were held by 7 girls, whereas 3 did not have them.

Based on the findings, the young girls underwent training, and three of them, who did not have smartphones before, were furnished with the devices. Furthermore, all participants received one month of start-up data. This positions them to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the digital economy.

2.2 Training Design

The training sessions comprised four components: Digital Literacy, Financial Literacy, E-commerce Education and Business Capacity Building. The sessions were conducted in the English language as participants possessed a basic understanding of British English. The details are below:

2.2.1 Digital Literacy
  1. Introduction to the Digital Economy: Participants learnt about the digital economy and how they could take advantage of it to enhance their skills and grow their businesses. 
  2. Leveraging Digital Tools and Solutions for Growth: Participants were provided with hands-on guidance on utilizing WhatsApp Business, Google my Business and Facebook for the expansion of their businesses. They acquired skills in creating their own online shops and developing Facebook pages for both their businesses and communities.
  3. Staying safe online: Participants were educated on fundamental cybersecurity practices, ranging from establishing robust phone passwords to refraining from sharing personal information online. Additionally, they were instructed on the importance of implementing two-factor authentication for all their online accounts.
  4. Social Media for Business Growth: Participants acquired the knowledge of crafting compelling content to attract customers to their businesses and inspire patronage.
2.2.2 E-commerce Education

In this module, participants gained insights into e-commerce, including selecting the most suitable platform for their businesses. They learned to conduct thorough due diligence on the chosen e-commerce platform, understanding processes such as payment, logistics, and operations. Additionally, participants were instructed on how to onboard on e-commerce platforms.

2.2.3 Financial Literacy

In this section, participants grasped the significance of bookkeeping, the value of savings, methods for securing funds for their businesses, and the know-how of accessing financial services like long-term savings and health insurance.

2.2.4 Business Building

Participants were taught:

  • The importance of business name registration
  • How to set business and personal goals
  • The significance of collaboration and working with others
  • How to initiate a business with little or no capital, using their acquired skills
  • How to build a strong reputation and personal brand
  • How to Utilize Traditional Marketing Methods for Customer Acquisition

3.0 Impact Achieved

3.1 Improved Digital and Financial Literacy

  1. All of the girls attested that the training significantly enhanced their overall digital and financial knowledge and skills. 
  2. 80% of them confirmed their newfound ability to establish online stores. Despite their initial unfamiliarity with using WhatsApp Business and Facebook for business, these young girls successfully created Facebook pages and activated WhatsApp Business, with some promptly developing catalogs on WhatsApp.
  3. Additionally:
  • Every participant expressed confidence in utilizing e-commerce for their businesses.
  • Every girl reported an increased understanding of bookkeeping.
  • All participants affirmed that the training provided them with the knowledge and skills necessary to initiate and grow their businesses.

3.2. Access to Smartphones and Internet Services

Three young girls were provided with smartphones to enhance their engagement in the digital economy, boost income through e-commerce, access financial services, and foster broader community connections. All participants also received start-up data for one month

3.3 Inspired to Launch Business in the Digital Sphere

Empowered with fresh insights on utilizing the digital realm for business initiation, participants departed the training with increased motivation. They are now enthusiastic about establishing their online stores. The subgroup of six, possessing hairdressing skills, collaborated to create a Facebook page, serving as a platform to promote their businesses.

4.0 Sustainability

For lasting impact:

  1. A WhatsApp group has been established for beneficiaries to facilitate continuous learning over a 4-week period, coupled with an impact evaluation at the end of the 4 weeks.
  2. Each participant has been urged to share the knowledge and skills they have acquired with five young girls in their community. This initiative aims to create a snowball effect of learning.

5.0 Next Steps

Tech Herfrica aims to evolve this pilot project into a comprehensive initiative, empowering young women to capitalize on their skills and establish sustainable businesses by integrating digital technology and financial inclusion. Tech Herfrica is committed to sustaining its partnership with FIST Africa in pursuing this objective.

6.0 Conclusion

Through this collaboration, the ScaleHer initiative has left a significant and positive imprint on the young girls of Gbuduwyi, Kabusa, FCT. Tech Herfrica maintains its dedication to empowering women and girls in rural communities, actively contributing to their economic development and resilience.

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