Tech Herfrica Rolls Out its EquipHer Initiative to End Cycle of Poverty for Women in Underserved Communities through Digital Inclusion
In 2021, the agricultural sector in Nigeria generated about 24% of the country’s GDP, and, in recent times, there has been a desire for the nation to stimulate its non-oil sector to foster improved economic development.
Available data also supports the fact that the majority of the women who contribute to agricultural production are in rural communities, and these women face the greatest risk of digital exclusion, which hampers their ability to participate in and benefit from the fast-growing digital economy.
The causes of digital exclusion have been largely attributed to the high cost of devices, a lack of access to affordable, reliable internet services, cultural norms, a dearth of digital and financial literacy, and a lack of localized content, amongst others.
The ongoing digital exclusion which creates a sense of being “left behind,” has an impact on farming and agriculture, and contributes to a cycle of poverty that continues because those without access may find it challenging as education, employment opportunities, and economic development become more and more reliant on digital tools.
To bridge this gap, Tech Herfrica, has launched its EquipHer Project 1000 initiative, targeted at conducting digital financial literacy training in local languages for female farmers and traders across the country and equipping them with mobile devices that meet their needs to enable them to get access to information, access financial services and reach new customers outside their local communities.
On Saturday, May 13, 2023, at the Mararaba Orange Market in the Federal Capital Territory, Tech Herfrica trained 40 farmers and traders and equipped them with mobile devices. The devices were donated by Champion Mall, 4Gs Farm, Orbeets Digi-Tech Solution, Gention Global Resources, Fight Against Drugs and Alcohol Abuse Foundation and some individuals who believe in the vision. The project has a 6-month timeline to train and equip one thousand female farmers and traders across the country and the programme will be done in 25 cycles of 40 women in each cycle. A monitoring and evaluation system has also been put in place to foster monthly monitoring and an evaluation design on the 24th week after the training and mobile phone delivery is done for each cycle.
Speaking with the founder, Imade Bibowei-Osuobeni, she stated that Tech Herfrica was established to provide digital access to female farmers and traders in rural communities to connect with buyers so that they are able to sell more of their products at fair prices, reduce food waste, rise above poverty, and be included in the larger society. “In addition to creating an e-commerce solution, herlocalmarket, that connects rural sellers to buyers, Tech Herfrica provides access to local technology for farmers and traders to increase production, conducts digital financial literacy programmes in indigenous language and content for the women so that they are able to adopt new technologies and access financial services, as well as facilitates access to smartphones, health insurance, and micro-pension plans so that the women can live financially stable and healthy lives. Pending the launch of Herlocalmarket.com, trades are currently being facilitated using WhatsApp. So far, millions of naira have been facilitated in sales, and over 600 women have been trained across Nigeria.” -she said
Tech Herfrica’s equipHer Project1000 will now help the women utilize the knowledge and skills they have acquired for economic prosperity. With the devices being provided, beneficiaries will be enabled to receive market information, access financial services, conduct trade, and communicate with the larger society.
Some of the successes recorded in the first cycle which held on May 13 2023 include:
- 100% of the women confirmed desire and willingness to leverage e-commerce for growth
- 80% of the women confirmed that their digital and financial literacy knowledge and skills had improved
- 92.5% indicated a desire and willingness to access health insurance plans. This was considered significant when compared to the baseline of zero
- 64.2% indicated a desire to have a micro-pension plan. This was considered significant when compared to the baseline of zero
- Tech Herfrica’s activities attracted customers visiting the market to each stall where a woman was being trained and the women made sales that they ordinarily may not have made
The next cycle has been scheduled for Saturday, 20 May 2023, where another batch of 40 female farmers and traders will be trained and equipped. The delivery will continue in cycles until the first milestone of 1000 is met.
Tech Herfrica’s work is contributing to equality, no poverty, digital equity and social inclusion for women in underserved communities and we will keep seeking partners to support the programme and provide access to health insurance and micro- pension plans for the women.