A lack of exposure and access to training is one significant barrier women face to starting and growing their businesses. This impedes the acquisition of business skills and, as a consequence, their access to capital and markets. For instance, only 37% of women in low income countries currently have access to basic financial services.
The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women has created HerVenture to help plug this gap. It’s a mobile learning app which aims to build the business skills of women entrepreneurs through bite-sized, easily digestible lessons, delivered in engaging formats such as swipeable cards, quizzes and action plan summaries. Each module also has a question and answer section where users can ask questions and get responses from fellow women entrepreneurs. This not only helps to provide practical solutions to the business challenges women are facing but also creates a supportive network amongst businesswomen working in the same contexts.
The app is currently being trialed in Indonesia, Nigeria and Vietnam where the Foundation is partnering with local organisations who can tailor the content for the local context, market the app through their networks and provide support locally to users. Being in its initial year, we are yet to complete a formal evaluation of the app, but so far there have been over 13,500 downloads of the app. 77% percent of women users in Indonesia have completed more than three lessons and around half of users in both Nigeria and Vietnam have informed us that they are already applying learnings to their businesses.
One such enthusiastic user is Dao Thi Luong.
After many years doing business, I found myself most interested in food and agriculture. Seeing the growing concern over environmental impact and overuse of unhealthy food additives, I realised I had to do something, and do it with strong moral conviction.
I set up Tam Anh. Tam meaning ethics and Anh, purity, it’s an organic vegetable co-operative. I wanted to show people that to have clean vegetables, there has to be a clear origin of everything – and from that, I developed an eco-tourism venture.
I was born and raised in Tu Xuyen, where there are many craft villages. There is a club there of more than 50 women entrepreneurs and factory owners who have set up many different craft-related industries. Because of their co-operative, they are well placed to embrace eco-tourism.
Because Tam Ahn is newly-founded though and I am working in a new industry, finding market share is very difficult. Eventually I want to be able to expand internationally and bring all of our products to other countries. However, right now, our capacity is still very limited.
I have been struggling to find solutions to things like this by myself. I often wonder why these challenges exist and what needs to be done to overcome them. I’ve started using the HerVenture app to help me and I think everyone could benefit from it. You can use it in a practical and user-friendly way both for business and in daily life.
I like that it gives me the space to improve. Right now, for me start-up knowledge is of critical importance, but I am excited that the market and finance tracks can come next.
When I do the short exercises, I can see the detailed explanation of each option, to learn which is wrong and which is right, and why. I feel very satisfied to know that. Learning through this app is very addictive! It fills me with motivation and passion. I love that I can start learning right when I wake up, or even in my car – being stuck in traffic jam isn’t so awful anymore.
More than just the business knowledge, I’ve grown personally too. I feel much more confident when meeting with business partners. And with my family, we study through the app together, we share knowledge and voice our opinions. We’ve became close friends by sharing our study time.
When I can learn something new, or do something meaningful, I feel most happy. I feel like my co-operative is on the right track. We are aligning with the movements of our country, our people’s values and lifestyles, and we provide what people need right now. I want to sustain and grow my business, to be able to serve customers sustainably, to improve our country’s sanitation and raise awareness about healthy food. I have no doubt the HerVenture app is going to help me do that.
The typical user of the app is a woman owner of a micro or small business, who employs 0-20 staff and has some level of mobile literacy and access to a smartphone or tablet. If that’s you or someone you know, we recommend a visit to GooglePlay to download HerVenture today!