Tech Herfrica’s Innovative Approach to Improving Digital Financial Literacy
The digital economy is rapidly growing in Africa, but women in rural and underserved African communities are significantly left out. For better context, Digital economy refers to the use of information technology to create or adapt, market or consume goods and services. Digital novelties include digital banking, e-commerce, virtual education, smartphone applications and collaboration platforms. According to data released by the United Nations, e-commerce in Africa is estimated to grow by 50% by 2025. Despite the predicted growth, the sad reality is that women in rural & underserved communities are still largely excluded from the digital economy, despite the fact that a significant portion of Africa’s food is produced by rural women. Thus, women in these areas are living in abject poverty and largely excluded from interacting with the larger society.
For African women in rural and underserved communities to reap the gains of the fast growing digital economy, there is a need for them to be connected to the internet, have access to smartphones and acquire digital and financial knowledge and skills so that they can leverage technology and access financial services to grow their businesses.
To this end, Tech Herfrica organizes digital financial literacy programmes using local languages to foster understanding and adoption. Prior to each training, the participants are profiled and a tailored curriculum is developed by a team of experts, who implement the training using local content and context.
On April 21, 2023, a digital financial literacy training was conducted for female traders in Abakpa Market, Enugu State, Nigeria. The training began with a discussion of the challenges faced by the women in the market due to the recent cashless policy which was stipulated by the Federal Government during the just concluded elections. Participants shared their experiences and expressed the need for alternative methods of payment and access to wider markets. The training then focused on how to leverage e-commerce, with Tech Herfrica representatives explaining how e-commerce could give them a wider reach of customers both locally and internationally with the use of a smartphone. Participants were also shown how to download and use WhatsApp to trade.
The importance of savings and investments was also emphasized, and participants were taught how to track their business expenses and income. Additionally, financial services such as loans, credits, micro pension plans and health insurance were discussed, and participants were encouraged to plan for their future and protect their income against unplanned medical bills.
The training also introduced agencies in Enugu such as Enugu SME Agency that provide business loans and credits to small businesses like theirs, at little to no interest rates as well as other agencies which provide affordable health insurance and could set up micro pension plans for them.
Despite the language barrier, as most of the women initially expressed skepticism prior to the training, Tech Herfrica’s unique approach and training design led to a successful implementation and adoption.
The training resulted in:
- 100% improvement in digital financial literacy knowledge and skills for the target population
- 86% improvement in the desire to leverage technology for growth
- 27.27% improvement in desire to access health insurance and micro pension plans
Specifically, Tech Herfrica engaged 66 women in the market. Prior to the training, none of the women had heard about e–commerce and the possibility of trading online. None of the women had also heard about micro-pension plans and health insurance. The women also expressed a lack of desire to trade online and leverage technology for their business due the fact that most of them could only communicate in the indigenous language- Igbo and were afraid of being scammed.
However, after the training, 59 out of the 66 women expressed desire to leverage e-commerce and access financial services for business growth. Also, all 66 women confirmed that they had acquired new knowledge and skills , while 18 of the women confirmed their desire to acquire health insurance and micro pension plans.
Considering the literacy level of the women, this is indeed a feat and Tech Herfrica is hopeful that it would garner the required resources to give the women access to smartphones, so as to facilitate ease of business on herlocalmarket, which is Tech Herfrica’s cardinate e-commerce project that connects rural female farmers and traders to domestic and international buyers.