•UN backs project to narrow gender gap

•Tips women-led digital businesses in Nigeria to expand new markets

By Prince Osuagwu, Hi-Tech Editor

Sometime in 2016 a young Nigerian woman, Damilola Olokesusi sat down to think about how to make transportation one less thing to worry about for corporate workers in Lagos. The thinking manifested in Shuttlers, a technology-driven transportation start-up which eventually launched in 2017

Since then, through its ridesharing platform, Shuttlers has been providing companies with better mobility options for their employees.

Now that seed planted in 2017 to solve the transportation issues in a popular African commercial city with most complicated traffic situation has become a model to lead Africa’s smart city project, just as much it is becoming the face of Africa’s women-led digital businesses.

In 2021, it attracted $1.6 million in seed funding from  several  investors to scale within and outside Nigeria. And, now, the United Nations has seen Olokesusi as an outstanding figure to inspire future generations to follow their path and create more awareness of the challenges faced by women digital entrepreneurs.

UN’s objective is to use the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development UNCTAD, to narrow the gender gap in Africa, by using eTrade for Women initiative to empower women digital entrepreneurs based in developing countries and help them become change makers in their societies.

Each year, UNCTAD nominates influential women entrepreneurs leaders in their region, the  eTrade for Women Advocates, to inspire future generations to follow their path and create more awareness of the challenges faced by women digital entrepreneurs.

For the year 2022-2023, among the five outstanding women nominated, Damilola Olokesusi, the founder of Shuttlers in Nigeria, was selected to represent Anglophone Africa.

A  recent study  published by the International Finance Corporation revealed that, by 2030, women could add nearly $15 billion to the e-commerce sector if the gender gap is closed a bit.

Head of  UNCTAD, Rebeca Grynspan, said the organisation had deliberately made women empowerment a priority, adding: “As UNCTAD’s Secretary-General, I commit to putting women’s empowerment at the heart of our work” .

Grynspan said to support women entrepreneurs, eTrade for Women regularly organizes  Masterclasses, which are unique empowering events that combine learning sessions, inspirational moments with influential leaders, networking opportunities and Policy Dialogues.

For the first time, the eTrade for Women initiative is being organized in Nigeria, a free Masterclass for women digital entrepreneurs based in Anglophone Africa. The event titled ‘Scaling Up Women-Led Digital Businesses, An Opportunity for Africa’s Development’ will be set up in collaboration with Damilola and will take place in Lagos from the 6th to the 9th of December.

Shuttlers  is currently one the fastest growing technology-driven transportation start-up and is revolutionizing the way professionals and organizations commute in busy cities of Africa. The company is also experiencing exponential growth as it just raised $1.6m seed funding to expand to new countries of the continent.

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