A social impact organisation, Tech Herfrica, is championing digital inclusion for women and girls in rural and underserved communities as a pathway to poverty reduction, food security, inclusive business, and social inclusion through EquipHer Initiative.
According to Tech Herfrica’s Founder, Imade Bibowei-Osuobeni, in a statement, EquipHer was designed to tie the key elements of digital financial inclusion to the economic prosperity of low-income women.
She added that through its EquipHer Initiative, Tech Herfrica conducts digital financial literacy training in indigenous languages for female farmers and traders across Nigeria and equips them with mobile devices to access farming and market information, access financial services, sell more of their goods at the right prices through its e-commerce-focused initiative, Her Local Market, and connect with society at large.
Bibowei-Osuobeni stated that the organisation has conducted digital financial literacy training in indigenous languages for over 1200 female farmers and traders and given over 200 internet enabled smartphones and feature phones to farmers and traders after the training.
Her words: “Women who receive mobile phones are taught how to use them to learn and trade, after which they are on onboarded on Her Local Market, where we help them facilitate trade, and this has led to an increase in income of 56.6% on average.
“Pending the launch of our e-commerce web application, trades are being facilitated using WhatsApp. With this, farmers and traders earn more, while buyers pay less.
“We also provide access to local technology, business finance and supply credit so that they can improve production to match demand.
“We don’t only help our women improve their income; we facilitate access to health insurance and long-term savings so as to improve their health and well-being even as their businesses prosper,” she said.
Speaking on partnerships, Imade mentioned that Tech Herfrica is currently in partnership with Afriex, a leading fintech company, Onome Food Market, and Orbeets Digi-Tech Solution to drive the Equipher initiative.
She further mentioned that some of the mobile devices distributed were also donated by Champion Mall, Gention Global Resources, Visual Earth Group, the Fight Against Drug and Alcohol Foundation, WRDO, Bridge Outpost Mega Services, Bullbear, and some individuals who believe in the vision.
On sustainability, Imade stated that Tech Herfrica now has over 40 young professionals from across Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, and Uganda, and it plans to replicate the EquipHer initiative across Nigeria and in countries where it is represented.
“We are exploring several partnership opportunities with financial institutions, state governments, international development organizations, and telecommunications companies to scale up the initiative.
“We are also actively pursuing the launch of our e-commerce web application so that more local and international sales can be facilitated for these women, and our administration fees for sales facilitation can help us sustain operations and drive impact,” she said.
Communities that have been impacted by Tech Herfrica’s EquipHer initiative include Okeho in Oyo State, Abakpa Market in Enugu State, Orange Market in Nassarawa State, as well as Mpape and Gishiri Communities in the Federal Capital Territory.
Recall that the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, stated that poverty entails more than a lack of income and productive resources to ensure sustainable livelihoods.
Its manifestations include hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, social discrimination and exclusion, as well as a lack of participation in decision-making.
As the African continent embraces technology and transitions into an inclusive digital economy, it becomes imperative for the continent to tackle digital exclusion for marginalised and underserved communities; otherwise, it faces risks of deepening poverty and continuing income inequalities.