The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and DHL Express have launched HerVenture, a business skills training mobile app for women entrepreneurs in Kenya. The app was launched during a virtual event that was attended by Cherie Blair and Prof Margret Kobia, the CS for Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs, Kenya.
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. In emerging economies, mobile technology is proving to be a lifeline for small businesses, but not everyone is ready to embrace the new digital reality. 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, but 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,” said Cherie Blair, founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women.
“Where there is disruption, there is also opportunity. Issues facing women entrepreneurs at this time are complex and interconnected but through collaboration and new partnerships across sectors and geographies, solutions can be found to help them thrive. 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 now, thanks to support from DHL Express, it comes to Kenya,” she added.
Kenya will be the second African Country after Nigeria to benefit from the availability of HerVenture following a needs assessment conducted in 2019.The app will come with a new e-commerce learning track to support women entrepreneurs with business digitisation through COVID-19 and will aim to reach 10,000 women entrepreneurs in Kenya.
“Investing in women entrepreneurs plays a crucial role in supporting Kenya’s 2030 vision of becoming a middle income nation by 2030. 49% of micro and small businesses are women owned which is more than in any other East African country and yet women own only 9% of medium sized enterprises. As such, we are delighted to 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,” said Prof Margret Kobia.
She added 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.
Sub-Saharan African economies lose nearly $100 billion a year because of the gender gap in the labour market. However, if businesses come together to support women entrepreneurs in response to this pandemic, we can take this as an opportunity to rebuild economies.
HerVenture will be available to Kenyan women entrepreneurs on Android through the Google Play Store. The app’s content is provided in bite-sized, easy to understand formats such as swipe-able cards, quizzes and videos. Static content can also be accessed offline. The app will allow users to find and connect with each other, as well as learn about local business events. So far, since its launch in 2018, HerVenture has been downloaded by and provided training to over 23,000 women, with huge benefits to local communities and economies, which is set to be scaled within Kenya.
“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,” says John Pearson, CEO, DHL Express, “The launch of HerVenture not only speaks to our values of diversity and inclusion at DHL, but is also closely in line with our 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.”
Sola Babatunde, CEO, OSC School of Fashion, a woman entrepreneur from Nigeria who has used HerVenture to develop her business, commented: “The app is a great concept – a beautiful idea – because you’re able to actually listen, go back and listen again, sit back and analyse your business, and actually tell yourself what you should be doing: ‘you need to test your market!’ I love the idea of the app and for my friends who are in business I make sure I send it to each one of them: ‘go and download that app, it will help your business’. This app has helped me to flesh out my idea and actually tell myself whether I need to go ahead or not. Thank you!”
HerVenture is a mobile learning app that supports women entrepreneurs to access the skills, confidence and networks they need to grow their businesses. It provides essential business training and support, enabling women to access skills-building information ‘on the go’. It features seven learning ‘tracks’ on a range of needs, including launching a business, product innovation and expanding market access, and a new learning track focusing on e-commerce. Based on user input, the app suggests a personalised learning roadmap for each entrepreneur. Content is provided in bite-sized, 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. The app is scalable and can be adapted to any geography or language across the world. It is currently available in Vietnam, Indonesia, Kenya and Nigeria.