Cherie Blair And Her Foundation Take Full Advantage of Technology
(3BL Media/Justmeans) – The advent of the Internet has been a real game-changer, connecting people globally. The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women is taking full advantage of the Web by pioneering a new way of supporting women entrepreneurs, working across physical and cultural distances, by combining mentoring with technology. This is the Foundation’s Mentoring Women in Business Programme, connecting women entrepreneurs in developing and emerging economies with inspirational mentors worldwide. Blair delivered a keynote address at a special event in Johannesburg, South Africa on June 30 to launch a report for this Programme.
The Foundation’s vision is a world where women have equal opportunities and the capability, confidence and capital necessary to establish and grow businesses. It is widely acknowledged that women who are financially independent have greater control over their own and their children’s lives. Economic security gives women an influential voice in tackling injustice and discrimination in their communities and wider society. Yet women entrepreneurs around the world still lack the business skills, technology, networks and access to financial services they need to be successful.
This digital age has helped give rise to more women entrepreneurs globally. Blair says, “Technology enables women to access training, information, markets and financial services. That’s why it is so important that we close the persistent gender gap in access to technology. It allows us to broaden our reach, and we use it across all of our projects at the Foundation. Our Programme deploys a unique algorithm to match mentee-mentor pairs. It uses a digital database to track the progress of our participants. It provides online training for mentors. And our mentors and mentees use online tools, like Skype and Google Hangout, to connect. Using technology allows us to reach women we wouldn’t otherwise have been able to support.”
Blair cites one example. “In a recent project to train 500 women entrepreneurs in Nigeria, we built a bespoke curriculum that was taught partly in the classroom, and partly through online modules. This meant that the women could learn at their convenience and without always needing to travel to lessons. This ‘blended learning’ approach allowed the women to balance the training with their other professional and domestic responsibilities.”
The Foundation also has a Mobile Technology Programme, using mobile technology to support women entrepreneurs. A report by the Foundation in 2010 revealed that women in developing countries were missing out on the mobile technology revolution – and that closing this gender gap would bring significant social benefits to women and their families, as well as a $13 billion revenue opportunity to mobile operators. Blair says, “It’s estimated that 200 million fewer women than men are connected to the Internet, and that women in low and middle income countries are 14% less likely than men to own a mobile phone.”
It is easy to see that the work of the Foundation is helping to create fundamental changes, by enabling women across the world to take up their rightful places in their societies and economies.
Photo Credit: Cherie Blair Foundation for Women