ICT use to boost women entrepreneurs, says UN

Needs of women entrepreneurs at all levels of investment need to be assessed so that ICT solutions can be applied to make businesses more profitable. Photo by Edgar R. Batte.

What you need to know:

There is a gender gap in terms of those with access to information technology and those who cannot and females are, in most cases, the disadvantaged demography.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has called upon the government and other stakeholders to make better use of innovative initiatives to help women entrepreneurs.

In its Information Economy Report 2011: ICTs as an Enabler for Private Sector Development, UNCTAD concludes that insufficient programme and policy attention has been given to the application of ICT tools to support women entrepreneurs so far.

Gender challenges
“The success of many women-owned ventures in many developing countries is often hampered gender-specific challenges, more so accessing finance. Therefore, mobile phones, radio and the internet can make a significant difference in the aforementioned barriers,” the UNCTAD report read in part.

Mr Ali Ndiwalana of the Grameen Foundation established that women need to be included in the national development plans because they are an essential element in the production process. However, very few private sector development projects are aimed at supporting women entrepreneurs to take full advantage of ICTs.

Work-family balance
“It is essential to assess the needs of women entrepreneurs and to explore how different ICT solutions can cater for them and any ICT-enabled initiatives in this area should be carefully tailored to their needs to balance work and family as well as their training needs in management,” Mr Ndiwalana said during the launch of the Information economy report at Makerere University on Tuesday this week.

In many developing countries, there is a gender gap in terms of access to some ICTs and according to a research carried out by GSM Association and the Cherie Blair Foundation, it is estimated that in developing countries, 300 fewer women than men own a mobile phone.

And according to a survey conducted by Audience Species, mobile phones are the most accessible ICT device in Uganda; but however, only 34 per cent of women use mobile phones compared to the 44 per cent by men.

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