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COVID-19: How 9Mobile’s romance with Cherie Blair Foundation empowered Nigerian women

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By Prince Osuagwu

A recent McKinsey Global Institute report said that in a ‘full potential’ scenario in which women play a similar role in labour markets with men, no less than $28 trillion, could be added to the global annual GDP. The report says that women’s entrepreneurship is a key driver of their economic participation.

However, the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women conducted a research on women entrepreneurship in low and middle-income countries, revealing that COVID-19 threatens to roll back the clock on women’s entrepreneurship. The Foundation’s report draws on responses from 125 women across 32 countries, with the highest percentage of responses coming from Nigerian women.

The report says that 83.8 percent of women surveyed agreed that the pandemic had a negative impact on their businesses, while 38.5 percent of that figure admitted their businesses are likely to fold as a result. That was the part telecom Operator, 9mobile said should not happen to Nigerian women because societies with greater gender parity grow faster and more equitably.

The telco noted that in the United States, where women play critical roles in economic development, it is projected that with an increase in the country’s female labour force, GDP growth could add $5.87 trillion to global market capitalization over the next ten years. Similarly, it is estimated that Nigeria’s GDP gain could total $229 billion, or 23 percent by 2025 if women’s participation in the labour market is fully equal to that of men.

9mobile is concerned that during an economic crisis, such as the pandemic, that gain could be lost. Besides, nearly 46.9 percent of those who reported to the Foundation that their businesses are at risk of closing say they would struggle to support themselves if that happened, 43.8 percent would struggle to support their families, and over 34.4 percent would struggle to afford necessities, like food. Similarly, 18.6 percent also expressed doubt they could become business owners again.

As part of efforts to support greater economic participation by women and prevent women from being forced out of the labour market by the pandemic, 9mobile recently teamed up with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women to bring the Foundation’s award-winning business skills app, HerVenture, to Nigerian women entrepreneurs.

The HerVenture app is a women’s mobile learning app that supports female entrepreneurs to access the skills, confidence, and networks they need to grow their businesses. It has supported over 20,000 women entrepreneurs in Nigeria alone, and in response to the pandemic, the Foundation recently added new learning modules to HerVenture to aid women with business digitization and resilience, with fantastic take-up and results.

Executive Director, Regulatory and Corporate Affairs, 9mobile, Abdulrahman Ado, noted that the decision to collaborate with the foundation on the HerVenture app stems from its commitment to leverage its technology and networks in promoting sustainable initiatives that support economic growth. According to him, when women are empowered with the skills to make informed business decisions, the ripple effect is felt practically in all sectors of the economy.

He said: “It is a known fact that empowering women economically boosts productivity, increases economic diversification, and stimulates other positive socio-cultural developments. Therefore we are harnessing our technology to support this very critical segment of society, to help build and grow their businesses, especially at this time when the world is going through a deadly pandemic that has continued to weaken economies around the world”.

Commending 9mobile for the support, Chief Executive Officer, Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, Helen McEachern, remarked that mobile network companies play an important part in providing the platform to reach the vast majority of women with the skills and support they need to grow their businesses and contribute their bit to national economic recovery and development.

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