About

The exponentially increasing rate of mobile penetration in developing and emerging economies offers many opportunities for women entrepreneurs to grow and expand their enterprises through the use of technology. However, women entrepreneurs also face specific challenges to business growth, such as limited access to adequate marketing channels and insufficient training opportunities. Historically, few mobile solutions have had the scale necessary to empower large numbers of women, and the majority of services for business use are generally not tailored to address the precise regional and local barriers that women face.

The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and the ExxonMobil Foundation worked together to research and test mobile services which can help women entrepreneurs develop their businesses. This was a three-phase project, involving research, on the ground projects and evaluation.

In the first phase of the project, we conducted a comprehensive study to understand the needs of women entrepreneurs in relation to mobile applications and services. The resulting report, Mobile Value Added Services: A Business Growth Opportunity for Women Entrepreneurs, studied the main business challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in Indonesia, Nigeria and Egypt, identified existing and new mobile value added services that could be used to address these challenges, and prepared a business case for scaling up those services which would likely have the greatest impact on women entrepreneurs. This report led to the development of our award-winning mobile service, Business Women, which reached over 100,000 women.

In 2014, an independent evaluation of the Business Women service, conducted by Michigan State University, found that 90% of subscribers felt the service gave them “practical guidance” on making their businesses grow and offered an “inexpensive way to become better-informed businesswomen”.

‘Studies like this will help us understand how technology can best support women in the developing world. Expanding the use of mobile technology for women will help raise living standards, leading to more prosperity for them, their families and their countries.’
– Suzanne M. McCarron, President of the ExxonMobil Foundation

Findings

  • Micro-entrepreneurs represent 98% of entrepreneurial activity across the three markets studied
  • Eight business challenges, including access to digital channels, affordable resources and access to marketplaces, were prioritised as having the greatest potential impact
  • Over 88% of women entrepreneurs were willing to use mobile services to address the core challenges they face in their businesses
  • More than 82% of women entrepreneurs indicated a willingness to pay for these services
  • The average monthly mobile spend of women entrepreneurs surveyed was almost four times greater than the market average

Projects

As a result of the report’s compelling evidence regarding the need for women-focused mobile services, the Foundation has, in collaboration with Nokia and with the support of the ExxonMobil Foundation, developed a tailored mobile information service for women entrepreneurs – called Business Women. The service was tested in three countries, (Nigeria, Indonesia and Tanzania), with over 100,000 women subscribers. Through a combined approach of technological innovation, hands-on training and capacity building, the Foundation has gathered a deeper insight into the needs and requirements of women entrepreneurs. In 2014, we commissioned a multi-stage independent evaluation study to assess the impact that the service had on the women entrepreneurs, which was carried out by the Michigan State University. The report is available to read here.

Find out more about our projects that have developed mobile services for women entrepreneurs below:

Partners

exxon mobil

The ExxonMobil Foundation is the primary philanthropic arm of Exxon Mobil Corporation. Since 2005, the ExxonMobil Foundation has helped women in developing countries fulfil their economic potential and drive economic and social change in their communities. To date, it has invested nearly $100 million to help community-based and global partners implement programs directly benefiting tens of thousands of women in over 90 countries.

booz logo

The ExxonMobil Foundation is the primary philanthropic arm of Exxon Mobil Corporation. Since 2005, the ExxonMobil Foundation has helped women in developing countries fulfil their economic potential and drive economic and social change in their communities. To date, it has invested nearly $100 million to help community-based and global partners implement programs directly benefiting tens of thousands of women in over 90 countries.

Start typing and press Enter to search