Cherie Blair Foundation for Women

Supporting Women Entrepreneurs in the New Digital Economy – Business Resilience Programme

Register your interest to learn more about the Business Resilience programme

CW partners with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women to help women entrepreneurs combat the effects of COVID-19

Faced with the biggest global crisis in decades, many women entrepreneurs within low and middle income countries are experiencing severe impacts on their businesses, with the risk that this will lead to significant negative effects on their families and their economies. Many businesses are being forced to change the way in which they operate or suspend their services.

A new survey conducted by the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, of women entrepreneurs in low to middle income countries, paints a challenging picture of the landscape and depth of need:

  • 93% have already been negatively impacted by COVID-19
  • Of those already impacted, 44% have ceased operations temporarily and 3% have ceased operations permanently

Impacts vary from access to customers being reduced or stopped completely, production or service reduction and supply chain problems. When paired with reports that they are also pivoting and adapting their offers and operations to address these impacts, women entrepreneurs are both struggling and innovating tremendously in the face of COVID-19.

In response to this challenging environment, the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, in association with CW (Cambridge Wireless), Synergy Solutions and contributors from Kings College London, Kings Business School and the business sector, have built a programme of support for women business owners in low to middle income countries focused on helping them combat the effects of COVID-19 whilst preparing them to operate in the new landscape that they are faced with. The new programme, led by CW Board Member Olu Orugboh, CEO and Founder of Synergy Solutions, combines practical digital training with online tools, and was co-developed by the organisations involved in little under 6 weeks.

Business Resilience Online Event Series

Following the successful set up and rollout of the Business Resilience programme to women entrepreneurs in 70 low and middle income countries, we launched a series of online events. These events formed part of the wider vision to create ongoing dialogue and a call to action, starting on 8 July 2020 with 'Rebuilding business after COVID-19 - Supporting women entrepreneurs to build businesses that can thrive in the new digital economy'. The event brought together business, government and development leaders from around the world to champion women entrepreneurs and to provide practical insight and best practice on the tools, support and services needed to help women entrepreneurs to survive COVID-19 and thrive in the growing digital economy.

Speakers included:

In low and middle income countries, millions of SMEs are turning to mobile technology to help them digitalise and adapt in response to the impacts of COVID-19. 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. This second of our exclusive online events, ‘Driving women’s access to mobile business skills learning: the mobile tech sector’s multibillion-dollar opportunity’ was held on 10 November 2020 and brought together an esteemed panel of speakers including Helen McEachern, CEO, Cherie Blair Foundation for Women; Claire Sibthorpe, Head of Connected Women, Connected Society & Assisted Tech, GSMA and Sylvia Mulinge, Chief Customer Officer, Safaricom PLC to discuss: 

  • The potential benefits that closing the intersecting gender gaps in access to mobile and access to business skills brings to the mobile industry?
  • Ways in which business and civil society can collaborate to break down the barriers to gender-equitable mobile and skills access whilst driving access to mobile learning amongst women entrepreneurs
  • What 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 we can 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?

We are pleased that we are able to respond by putting together an urgent programme of support, across 70 countries with our partners, focussed on helping women entrepreneurs to safeguard their business and better respond to the new normal that they are now facing.

Olu Orugboh

COVID-19 is causing all kinds of disruptions globally, for women entrepreneurs in low and middle income economies, businesses are being forced to change the way they operate or suspend their services. Where business is a lifeline and without the right support in place such disruptions, can have detrimental effects on both the women entrepreneurs and their families.

The programme will be made available for free to women entrepreneurs everywhere from June 1st at www.businessresilience4we.org

We are really excited to be empowering thousands of women entrepreneurs in over 70 countries through technology and our relationships

Abhi Naha, CCO, Cambridge Wireless

Cherie Blair Foundation for Women

Through its combined approach of programmatic delivery and advocacy, the Foundation supports women to start and grow successful micro, small and medium businesses, with training, technology, mentoring and networking at the heart of its work. This opens doors to finance, markets, contacts and more, and enables women to create better futures for themselves and their families, enable their communities to prosper, contribute to strong economies, and move the world in a whole new direction.

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Synergy Solutions

Synergy Solutions is a specialist digital innovator and consultancy practice focused on helping companies stay at the forefront of evolving technology and the ever-changing world of customer expectation.

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CW (Cambridge Wireless)

CW (Cambridge Wireless) is the leading international community for companies involved in the research, development and application of wireless and mobile, internet, semiconductor and software technologies.

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