Together with the ExxonMobil Foundation we have published a report, Evaluating Business Women, a Mobile Value Added Service for Women Entrepreneurs.  The Business Women service was designed through a partnership with the ExxonMobil Foundation and Nokia to deliver business training specifically tailored for women entrepreneurs via SMS. Since it first launched in 2012, the service has reached over 100,000 women in Nigeria, Indonesia and Tanzania.

Businesswomen in developing countries, face countless barriers on their path to economic and social empowerment. The mobile value added service is an increasingly valuable tool that can deliver information and skills training to facilitate the economic empowerment of women in the developing world.

At the beginning of 2014, research was carried out in Nigeria and Indonesia to assess how the Business Women service influenced the lives and businesses of subscribers. Hundreds of telephone and in-person interview were conducted as well as focus group discussions. As a result we now better understand how subscribers used the service, what they liked and disliked, what they learned from the service, and what content they would have liked more of. Going forward we will be incorporating these findings into the possibilities for designing and implementing an enhanced version: Business Women 2.0.

This report is part of a three-phase project, involving research, on the ground projects and evaluation. In the first phase of the project, we conducted a comprehensive study,  Mobile Value Added Services: A Business Growth Opportunity for Women Entrepreneurs, to better understand women entrepreneurs’ needs in relation to mobile applications and services. This report led to the development of our award-winning mobile service, Business Women. This report, Evaluating Business Women, a Mobile Value Added Service for Women Entrepreneurs, is the final phase of the project.

‘Our research shows that 90% of subscribers said that the service gave them ‘practical guidance’ on growing their businesses, and offered ‘an inexpensive way to become a better informed businesswoman’. These findings prove that mobile technology really can have a significant impact on women entrepreneurs and their businesses.’
– Clare Twelvetrees, Interim CEO, Cherie Blair Foundation for Women


  • 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”
  • 80% said that the service showed them how to find new customers
  • Over 67% said that the service gave them pointers on how to find affordable and easily accessible credit options

The service also had an impact on entrepreneurial optimism:

  • 91% of women felt their business profits would grow
  • 88% said that they would devote more time to their business
  • 85% felt confident that there would be substantial demand for their products or services
  • 70% said they would hire more workers


Localise content:
Our evaluation validated the importance of using content tailored to country-trends and local interests. For instance, readership on financial information varied between countries: whilst less than 16% of Indonesian subscribers wanted information about banking or business loans, 43% of Nigerian business women read such financial content ‘often’ or ‘always’.

Develop women-focused content:
Content should be developed with women in mind, for example, by including success stories and gender-sensitive strategies for more efficient time management of household and family responsibilities.

Respond to the evolving mobile environment:
With innovations in mobile technology such as downloadable apps, it is important that practitioners keep up to date with how mobile phones can be used to inform and deliver information to users in developing countries.


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.

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