Driving women’s access to mobile business skills learning: the mobile tech sector’s multi-billion dollar opportunity

Brought to you by CW (Cambridge Wireless)

The second of our exclusive events in collaboration with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and supported by Synergy Solutions focusses on access to mobile learning for women entrepreneurs.

Registration for this event is now closed.

About the event

SMEs across the world have had to rapidly digitalize to survive the impact of COVID-19.  In low and middle-income countries, millions of SMEs are turning to mobile technology to help them adapt. Mobile handsets are powering entire businesses like never before, connecting entrepreneurs to customers, finance, information, skills training, networks and other vital services.

But not everyone is able to take up these opportunities. Not only have women’s businesses being hit hardest by the pandemic, women in low and middle-income countries are far less likely than men to have access to both mobile and to essential business information, networks, services and skills training. This ‘double barrier’ is preventing many women entrepreneurs in low and middle-income countries from being able to adapt their businesses to successfully navigate the emerging challenges the global pandemic is bringing and to adapt to future disruptions. This spells severe impacts for families, communities, industries and economies across the globe. 

With COVID-19 accelerating the drive towards digital and with the world preparing for 5G, women entrepreneurs in low and middle-income countries must be supported now through initiatives to close the gender gap in mobile access and break the gendered barriers to business skills training and services. Without this, they risk being left behind not only as businesspeople, but also as customers, service users and contributors to supply chains and economies, posing a real missed opportunity for the mobile technology sector in particular.

To explore these intersecting issues, the barriers, the solutions mobile technology companies can provide and the huge potential this holds, Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and CW (Cambridge Wireless), supported by Synergy Solutions, bring together Claire Sibthorpe, Head of Connected Women at GSMA; Helen McEachern, CEO at Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and Sylvia Mulinge, Chief Customer Officer at Safaricom PLC to discuss:

  • What are the potential benefits that closing the intersecting gender gaps in access to mobile and access to business skills brings to the mobile industry?
  • How can business and civil society collaborate to break down the barriers to gender-equitable mobile and skills access and promote women entrepreneurs’ access to mobile learning?
  • What do women entrepreneurs in low and middle-income countries want and need from the mobile tech sector in order to access their products and services?
  • How can we support the investment in and development of more free and accessible online learning for women entrepreneurs, helping to mitigate the impacts of COVID and ready them for an increasingly digital economy?

You can follow @CambWireless on Twitter.

In collaboration with Cherie Blair Foundation for Women

Cherie Blair Foundation for Women helps release the potential of women entrepreneurs in low and middle income countries, and close the global gender gap in entrepreneurship.

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Supported by Synergy Solutions

Synergy Solutions is a Digital Innovator focussed on bringing the latest thinking in customer and end user experience using cutting edge technology.

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The information supplied below may be subject to change before the event.


Welcome from Olu Orugboh, CEO & Founder, Synergy Solutions and CW Board Member


Helen McEachern, CEO, Cherie Blair Foundation for Women


‘Women and mobile in low-and middle-income countries’: Claire Sibthorpe, Head of Connected Women, Connected Society & Assisted Tech, GSMA


‘Mobile learning innovation & business opportunities for Kenyan women entrepreneurs’: Sylvia Mulinge, Chief Customer Officer, Safaricom PLC


Panel discussion and audience Q & A

Chaired by Olu Orugboh, CEO & Founder, Synergy Solutions and CW Board Member




Event closes


Helen McEachern - CEO, Cherie Blair Foundation for Women

Helen joined the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women in 2017 after over a decade at ActionAid, most recently in the role of Director of Fundraising for ActionAid UK. She brings over 20 years’ experience in international NGOs and has held senior leadership positions at Greenpeace and ActionAid International. Helen has a BSc. in Social Policy from Birkbeck, University of London, and an International Executive MBA from the IE Business School in Madrid.

Sylvia Mulinge - Chief Customer Officer, Safaricom

Sylvia is currently serving as the Chief Customer Officer in Safaricom PLC. She is the commercial leader at the most profitable company in East and Central Africa and is responsible for driving the company's commercial strategy and focus on the consumer to deliver long term shareholder growth as well as create preference for the Safaricom brand. Over the span of her 20-year career in the corporate sector, Sylvia has built a reputation as one of Kenya's outstanding business transformative leaders, a mentor and a go-getter. She is the recipient of several awards, which includes her appointment to the Presidential Award Scheme, a self-development programme in Kenya aimed at equipping young people aged between 14-25 years with positive life skills so they can make a difference for themselves, their communities, Kenya and the world.


Sylvia was named as one of Kenya's Top 25 Women In Digital in 2019, and has also been feted as one of Kenya's Top 40 under 40 Women for 3 consecutive years. She is a 2015 Young Global Leader (YGL) recipient, an award given by the World Economic Forum to those distinguished as exceptional global leaders under the age of 40. Sylvia is a certified executive coach and a Bachelor of Science degree alumna from the University of Nairobi where she graduated with the highest distinction of First-Class Honors.


Her passion for transforming lives, leadership, women empowerment & community impact has her currently serving on several boards including SHOFCO (Shining Hope for Communities), Endeavor Kenya and Food4Education, and she is also a Trustee of the President Award Kenya as well as the Safaricom Foundation. She was also appointed by the Unstereotype Alliance as one of the four Global Vice Chairs in 2019. 


A mentor and coach in both her professional and personal life, Sylvia operates on the principles of partnership, humility, openness and professionalism. But when all is said and done, her most treasured role is that of a mother to her two beautiful children.

Olu Orugboh - CEO, Synergy Solutions

As the CEO and Founder of Synergy Solutions, a digital innovator, focussed on bringing the latest thinking in customer and end user experience using cutting edge digital technology, Olu is a senior leader and seasoned professional with over 20 years’ experience, leading customer care operations through change, transformation and migration into digital environments. She is highly focussed on helping businesses to deliver an enhanced experience and  shape them to become more resilient.

Olu has assisted a range of companies from high growth scale ups to FTSE listed companies both in the UK and Internationally. Olu has deep international experience, assisting enterprises turnaround their failing CX/UX services through to putting in place infrastructures to support growth initiatives and introduce digital innovation.

Following her MBA and after a successful career in Marketing, Olu Joined SITEL Consulting, the Call Centre Consulting division of SITEL Corporation, the $1.3Bn NYSE listed call centre business as a Project manager, she progressed to become a Managing Consultant, and eventually Commercial Director before leaving the company in 2005 to run her own management consultancy practice focused on helping companies improve their user experience.

In addition to running a business, Olu is a mother to two wonderful children and is currently developing her other passions which are to help nurture young girls and women from disadvantaged backgrounds to embrace technology and encourage businesses to adopt emerging digital technology.

Claire Sibthorpe - Head of Connected Women, Connected Society and Assistive Tech, GSMA

Claire is Head of the Connected Women, Connected Society and Assistive Tech programmes at GSMA. These programmes are focused on accelerating digital inclusion for the underserved in low- and middle-income countries. Connected Women has a specific focus on accelerating digital and financial inclusion for women and Assistive Tech has a specific focus on advancing digital inclusion for those with disabilities. Claire has been working for over 20 years with public, private and international development organisations on social policy and service delivery with a focus on information and communications technology (ICT) policy and practice. She has developed, managed and implemented programmes in Africa, Asia and the UK. Claire holds an MSc in Social Research Methods (2012) and an MSc in Social Policy and Planning in Developing Countries (1997) from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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