More than 10,000 small and medium business women enterprenours are set to benefit from HerVenture app, a mobile learning app that supports women entrepreneurs access skills, confidence and networks which are key to grow their businesses.
The app launched by Cherie Blair foundation in partnership with DHL express provides essential business training and support, enabling women to access skills-building information ‘on the go’.
The app features six learning ‘tracks’ on a range of needs, including launching a business, product innovation and expanding market access.
The Mobile app will be used as an avenue to help women entrepreneurs in Kenya, across the African continent and globally, to digitise their businesses and position them to thrive in the new digital world during the pandemic.
“COVID-19 is drastically changing the way we live and work and pushing us further into a digital world. To survive, many businesses across the world find that they too must move online,” said Cherie Blair,CBE QC, Founder, the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women.
In emerging economies, Blair said mobile technology is proving to be a lifeline for small businesses, but not everyone is ready to embrace the new digital reality.
Blair noted that GSMA’s Mobile Gender Gap Report 2020 shows that women are still less likely to have the access or skills to use it to adapt their business.
She however noted that if they don’t access support now, they face losing their businesses altogether, which stands to have severe knock-on impacts on families, communities and economies.
The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women’s HerVenture mobile learning app has been developed specifically for women who own small and medium enterprises in low and middle income countries.
The app is currently available in Vietnam, Indonesia, Nigeria and finally Kenya thanks to support from DHL Express.
Kenya will be the second African Country after Nigeria to benefit from the availability of HerVenture following a needs assessment conducted in 2019.
Helen McEachern, chief executive officer, Cherie Blair, said 87 percent of women who have used the app reported improved confidence, while two third have increased their profit margins.
“In countries where we have launched the app we have seen over 700 downloads within two months,we anticipate to surpus the ten thousand target in Kenya,” said McEachern.
“We will soon be adding a 7th learning track focusing on e-commerce, which emerged as a priority in the survey the Foundation conducted on how COVID-19 has affected women entrepreneurs in the network,” said the CEO.
She said Kenya was selected because it met all cretaria such as lack of digital training applications and huge gaps in start-ups businesses.
“The application allows learning new business skills while maintaining social distancing,” said McEachern.
She further hinted that the foundation would roll-out such programme in Rwanda and South Africa.
Speaking during the virtual launch, Kenyas cabinet secretary for the public, youth and gender affairs, Prof Margaret Kobia said investing in women entrepreneurs plays a crucial role in supporting Kenya’s 2030 vision of becoming a middle income nation by 2030.
She noted that 49 percent of micro and small businesses are women owned which is more than in any other East African country and yet women own only 9 percent of medium sized enterprises.
Prof Kobia noted that such programmes will continue to support the enormous contributions that women entrepreneurs make to their communities and economies, in Kenya and beyond, and help steer towards a more equal, secure and prosperous future.
She stressed that lack of adequate training programmes and information, problems accessing finance and restrictive socio-cultural norms are limiting the success of women’s businesses in Kenya.
“The government is working towards improving and empowering women through platforms such as HerVenture and the Women Enterprise Fund to ensure that their needs are met through flexible support to overcome these challenges,” said Prof Kobia.
Also commenting on the launch of the mobile app, DHL Express chief executive officer, John Pearson said the launch of HerVenture not only speaks to their values of diversity and inclusion at DHL, but is also closely in line with their strategy 2025 that focuses on digitalization and sustainable growth through e-commerce.
“It is our main mission to support companies and entrepreneurs of all kinds to connect with a global audience.”
“We are honored that DHL Express was chosen by the Cherie Blair Foundation to support their truly unique training program and to take our part in upskilling women entrepreneurs in Kenya,” said Pearson.
Based on user input, the app suggests a personalised learning roadmap for each entrepreneur.
Content is provided in bite-size, easily digestible formats such as swipe-able cards, quizzes and videos.
Static content can also be accessed offline. The app allows users to find and connect with each other, as well as learn about local business events.
HerVenture is highly scalable and can be adapted to any geography or language across the world.
The app has been developed over the past few years with support from with Qualcomm® Wireless Reach™ through the wider DevelopHer initiative, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the Happel Foundation, the Allan and Nesta Ferguson Charitable Trust, the Swedish Postcode Foundation, ExxonMobil Foundation and DHL.