Tech Herfrica - Helping to Bridge the Digital Divide in Nigeria

The digital divide in Africa, denoting the disparity between those with access to and proficiency in the use of digital devices, the internet, and other digital technology and those without, disproportionately affects women and girls in rural communities.

In Nigeria, women, especially those in rural areas face a disproportionate burden of the digital divide—the unequal access to and use of technology. Rooted in social norms, high cost of smarphones, digital illiteracy and dearth of digital infrastructure,  this gap hampers education, economic growth, communication, and social engagement. Ranging from academic pursuits to entrepreneurial ventures, restricted digital access exacerbates the gap between the privileged and the marginalized, impeding economic inclusion, social development, and overall progress. For example, the inability of women farmers in rural areas to access crucial market updates, new markets,  weather forecasts, or essential information online, locks away substantial socio-economic potential and leaves them in a perpetual cycle of poverty.

The gap is even more evident when looking at internet usage by women in rural areas. According to a report from GSMA 2021 Customer Survey, in Nigeria, mobile internet was used by 67% of urban men, 46% of urban women, 41% of rural men, but only 24% of rural women. This gap represents missed opportunities for education, economic growth, and social connection. Bridging this divide, especially as it affects women in rural areas  requires more than just digital infrastructure – it demands a multifaceted approach that tackles social norms, digital illiteracy and low access to smartphones as well as other relevant digital resources.

Closing this gap isn’t just about technology, it’s about unlocking the full potential of Africa’s future. Despite the painful realities of exclusion, there is hope on the horizon as  organizations like Tech Herfrica are tackling this complex issue at its root.

Tech Herfrica, a leading social impact organization is striving to bridge the digital divide and contributing to breaking the cycle of poverty for women and girls in Nigeria through digital and financial inclusion. By providing farmers and traders, especially women in Nigeria  with the information, digital tools, smartphones, digital and financial literacy training in local languages, access to financial services, an e-commerce platform, and other resources they need to enhance their farming and business activities and sell more of their products at competitive market prices, Tech Herfrica is helping to reduce poverty and post-harvest waste, contributing to food security, promoting social inclusion, and advancing digital equity.

Tech Herfrica’s cardinal initiative, EquipHer4Growth stands out from the rest. This initiative is tailored specifically for rural women engaged in agricuture and trade and distinguishes itself from conventional approaches. It adopts a multifaceted strategy, equipping these women with both digital and financial knowledge and skills in their local language and context while also facilitating access to smartphones so that they can leverage fintech, agritech and e-commerce to improve productivity and income.  The women are also connected to electronic and social commerce solutions that enable them to reach more customers outside their local communities. This initiative  is also uniquely designed to facilitate access to financial services, including non-interest finance, long-term savings, and health insurance plans, ensuring that beneficiaries can live healthy lives even as their businesses prosper.

Tech Herfrica- Helping to Bridge the Digital Divide in Nigeria

Rural women in Nigeria who have benefited from the initiative can now use WhatsApp, Facebook and ecommerce platforms to sell more of their products at the right prices leading to improved income. They are also able to use google search, mobile banking Apps to get valuable information and access financial services. These women learn about the importance of savings and how to keep simple business records. They learn how to avoid online fraud and gender-based violence, increasing their motivation to use technology. Beneficiaries have reported that their lives change significantly and they are now able to access the same economic opportunities like their counterparts in urban areas.

Tech Herfrica- Helping to Bridge the Digital Divide in Nigeria

As of 31 December 2023, Tech Herfrica has helped over 4000 women and girls in rural areas in Nigeria improve their literacy in both digital and financial domains, provided smartphones to beneficiaries, enabled them to access financial services, facilitated millions of naira in trade and positioned them to boost their income by at least 50%. You can view their impact report here:

Organizations Helping to Bridge the Digital Divide in Nigeria

Due to its significant tangible impact, EquipHer4Growth was recognized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) with the prestigious SDG Digital Game Changers Award in the People Category. Its impact also led Tech Herfrica to win the Impactful NGO of the year. 

Tech Herfrica was also selected from more than 300 organizations to participate in the Chat for Women’s Livelihood (CWL) Accelerator, led by with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Guided by the team at, the 18-month CWL Accelerator will enable Tech Herfica to design and develop an impactful chat service on WhatsApp that will enhance online trading and digital literacy for target beneficiaries.

Tech Herfrica- Helping to Bridge the Digital Divide in Nigeria

Some of the other initiatives of Tech Herfrica include but are not limited to:

  • Access to Market: Tech Herfrica has co-created a technology enabler in the form of an e-commerce web application – HerLocal Market. The aim is to connect female farmers and traders in rural and underserved communities to domestic and international buyers for quality food items at the best prices. This ensures that farmers earn more, while buyers pay less.
  • Agric Scale-Up: This innovative approach centres on specialized training and support tailored to empower rural farmers, especially women, to improve agricultural productivity. The initiative’s key objective is to enhance agricultural productivity through the adoption of modern technologies, improved seed varieties, and best farming practices, considering the effects of climate change.
  • Digital Literacy for All: Tech Herfrica conducts digital literacy training for pupils in primary and secondary schools in rural and underserved communities in Nigeria, preparing them on how to leverage technology for growth.
  • Access to Financial Services: As part of the EquipHer4Growth solution, Tech Herfrica facilitates access to financial services for our beneficiaries, under an initiative called “Eféréne.” a bini word that translates to “wealth has come”. It also facilitates access to health insurance and long-term savings.

Tech Herfrica doesn’t just provide rural women, who are farmers and traders, with smartphones; they equip them with the knowledge and confidence to use them effectively. From navigating online marketplaces to staying updated on vital agricultural information, these skills translate into economic growth and empowerment. The impact is undeniable: beneficiaries experience a staggering 56% increase in income on average.

Tech Herfrica’s approach is unique and innovative for the following reasons:

  1. Localized Approach to Training and Literacy: Their training methods are tailored to local languages and contexts, helping women overcome literacy barriers using voice features on their phones. Thy engage with each community in a community-led manner, involving relevant stakeholders to ensure their support.
  2. Integration of Digital Technology for Financial Inclusion: Tech Herfrica’s design encompasses the fundamental aspects of financial inclusion. Women learn essential accounting skills, how to save, and access financial services, empowering them with sustainable economic capabilities through digital inclusion efforts.
  3. E-commerce Integration: Through a chat-based e-commerce platform, Tech Herfrica onboards female farmers and traders, enabling them to expand their customer base and enhance their income, thereby capitalizing on the opportunities presented by the digital economy.
  4. Sustainability Strategy: Tech Herfrica facilitates access to electronic and social commerce platforms, enabling women to sell their products at fair prices, thereby increasing their income and sustaining positive behavioral changes. Additionally, the organizations’s cluster-based approach fosters continuous learning within communities, as each woman commits to training five more women, creating a ripple effect of impact.
  5. Social Norms Training and Male Involvement: Recognizing the role of social norms in digital exclusion, Tech Herfrica involve men in programme design and implementation, fostering greater acceptance and success.
  6. Digitization of Literacy Courses: To complement physical training, Tech Herfrica has developed online digital and financial literacy courses in local languages, pre-installed on women’s devices for offline viewing. This ensures ongoing learning and reinforcement.
  7. Team Expertise: Tech Herfrica’s team comprises experts in project management, program design, monitoring and evaluation, curriculum development, risk management, financial planning, and communications with a combined experience of over five decades across diverse sectors. They also have a strong representation across African countries.

Kudos to Tech Herfrica and other organizations who are striving hard to bridge the digital divide across the African continent.

Written by: Eghosa Oviawe, Independent Impact Communications Specialist

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