The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and DHL Express have launched HerVenture, a business skills training mobile app for women entrepreneurs, in Kenya. The virtual launch was attended by Cherie Blair and Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for the Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs Professor Margaret Kobia.
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 Covid-19 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,” said Cherie Blair, founder, 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 has come 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 Vision 2030 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 Professor Margaret Kobia, Cabinet Secretary for the Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs.
Professor Kobia emphasized 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. To that end, 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,” added Professor Kobia.
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. “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,” said John Pearson, chief executive officer, DHL Express.