This International Women’s Day Emerging360 is celebrating women-owned businesses in Africa.
We’re proud to be partnering with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, ExxonMobil Foundation, the Enterprise Development Centre of Pan-Atlantic University, and Diamond Bank on the Road to Women’s Business Growth initiative.
In fact, Cherie Blair is in Nigeria to host a special event for our project, along with 250 of the 500 women entrepreneurs who are graduating from the first phase.
Our Research: Women-Owned SMEs in Nigeria
The results of our needs assessment showed that one of the greatest barriers preventing women small business owners in Nigeria from growing their enterprises is access to finance. Of course, this problem is not unique to Nigeria – women run 30% of all registered businesses worldwide, yet only 10% of women entrepreneurs have access to the capital they need to grow. But our project is helping to overcome this obstacle to women’s entrepreneurship in three innovative ways.
The Solution: The Road to Women’s Business Growth
First, research indicates that facilitating direct linkages between women and financial services is crucial to increasing financial inclusion. It’s not enough to teach women about abstract financial concepts; they need the opportunity to put those learnings into practice. Representatives from the project’s financial partner, Diamond Bank, have been connecting with women at regular intervals and in substantive ways to provide them with information on the financial products that will best meet their needs and to demystify loan application procedures and collateral requirements.
Second, the Road to Women’s Business Growth training course is completely unique. We built the curriculum from scratch to meet the needs of women-owned SMEs in Nigeria.
Third, we’re leveraging the power of technology and the latest thinking in the field of mobile blended learning to deliver the project in a way that fits with the realities of women’s lives. The training has been delivered partly in traditional classroom settings, and partly through e-learning modules, which the women can access via hand-held tablets. The in-class training for women-owned businesses in Africa enables participants to benefit from networking and peer-to-peer learning, while the eLearning components are accessible on-demand via hand-held tablets provided to the participants.
Over the next six months the women will continue to receive support to build their businesses, with one hundred participants benefiting from more intensive support in the form of mentoring, personalized business workshops and further linkages to investment opportunities.
Research shows that when women earn, they plough the majority of their income back into the health and wellbeing of their families. This means that all of the women involved in our project are poised to act as change-makers in their communities.