In an era where information and communication technologies (ICT) are transforming every sector to enhance productivity, women entrepreneurs in agribusiness and crafts in Cameroon are struggling to keep up. To address this, the African Women In Tech Startups association, known as “African WITS,” has launched an innovative project called Carav’Elles Digital Center. The goal of this project is to train and support women living in peri-urban and rural areas to develop their businesses using ICT to achieve financial autonomy. Carav’Elles Digital Center has garnered attention and is one of the projects supported by the XOESE Fund as part of the Feminists In Action (FEA) project.
At the Heart of Carav’Elles Digital Center
In a context where the use of ICT has become essential to remain competitive, Carav’Elles Digital Center stands as a promising solution to empower women entrepreneurs in agribusiness and crafts to fully leverage these new technologies. It addresses specific challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in rural and peri-urban areas, including a lack of knowledge about ICT usage, limited access to telecommunications services in remote areas, and difficulties in acquiring technological equipment. These obstacles hinder their access to opportunities provided by technology, thus impeding their empowerment and economic strengthening.
Supported by the XOESE Fund as part of the Feminists In Action project, the objective of this project is to assist 105 women entrepreneurs in the agribusiness and crafts sector, living in the secondary cities of Edéa, Ebolowa, and Foumban in Cameroon. These women have limited financial resources to integrate Information and Communication Technologies to promote and popularize their products, making them competitive in the local and international markets.
How Does the Carav’Elles Digital Center Project Work?
The project unfolds in several stages. It begins with a 3-day training program, with daily 4-hour sessions focusing on integrating technology into entrepreneurial initiatives. The beneficiary women will then receive technical support to create their virtual identity, enhance their online presence, including internet marketing and the creation of dedicated Facebook pages for their activities. Additionally, 30 women engaged in high-potential activities will receive Android phones to facilitate their use of technological tools. All of this will be preceded by an initial meeting session with the beneficiaries to ensure their commitment and willingness to seize this opportunity presented to them.
The Story of the Remarkable Carav’Elles Digital Center Project
This project primarily aimed to support women and young girls affected by the security crisis in Cameroon. Approximately 300 internally displaced women have already benefited from this program in five (5) cities across the country.
Despite the challenges encountered in previous editions of the Carav’Elles Digital Center project, such as participants’ irregular attendance and varying target expectations, African WITS has successfully overcome these obstacles by adapting its approaches and addressing the specific needs of the beneficiaries. Previous successes include the purchase of a multi-purpose mill for processing cassava-derived products in the village of KONPINA, as well as the establishment of a High-Tech training center at the African WITS headquarters in Douala. These achievements have improved the economic activities of the beneficiary women and strengthened their commitment.
Why Renew This Project ?
It is a project that responds to the significant need of women who are often left on the sidelines of technological advancements. The daily training time has been reduced for a more balanced integration with personal and family life.
The grant awarded by the Feminists in Action project will have a substantial impact on the development of African WITS and the community it serves. It will further solidify the organization’s commitment to reducing the digital and technological divide in favor of women living in rural areas. This grant will contribute to increasing the organization’s recognition as a key player in empowering women through ICT.
The objective by 2023 is to cover all ten regions of Cameroon and assist approximately 2000 rural women entrepreneurs, internally displaced women, and women in vulnerable situations in achieving better empowerment through technology. African WITS also aspires to expand this project to other Francophone African countries.
About the African WITS Organization
African WITS was founded in 2016 and is a professional women’s network and nonprofit organization specializing in technology and innovation to support women, youth, and local communities. The association is committed to reducing the gender technology gap in favor of women, young girls, and local communities in Africa. Since its inception, African WITS has undertaken numerous concrete actions to assist women and young girls in acquiring technological skills. The Feminine Tech Hub, the Incubator, the Academy, and the Advisory and Advocacy Body are among the association’s flagship initiatives. It is led by Ms. Horore BELL BEBGA, an IT professional with over 7 years of experience in contributing to the development of the Tech ecosystem in Cameroon and Central Africa. She is also an entrepreneur in the EdTech sector and has received several international awards in the ICT field.