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EMPOWERING WOMEN TO ACCESS THE INTERNET

My encounter with the internet started in my first year(2002) at the Polythecnic, then my late elder brother opened an email for me , so the family can get in touch with me while in school, because then I had no mobile phone. Checking my mail was always very difficult because the cost of accessing it at the cyber-café was high and the café attendant always felt like a small god. So I decided in my heart to learn how to use the computer and the internet by all means.
After that decision, I will go the cyber café, instead of asking the café attendant to help me check my mail, I will pay for browsing time, lets say 1 hour and try to use the computer and internet myself, if I encounter any challenge, I will ask the person sitting by me to help or the cyber-café attendant. I did that frequently until I learnt how to use the computer and internet, I still learn every day, because there is always something new.

The internet has played a major role in my life, because I do most of my business online. I run a cyber café, in this café I help people do any online related job. I own a Mobile Messaging website (Bulk SMS) called www.zoomsmsng.com ,through this website churches send messages to their members mobile phones, schools to their pupils parents, small businesses like boutiques and hotels send sms alerts to their customer’s mobile phones to inform them of new arrivals or new events taking place.

A very important technology company that has helped me a lot on the internet is GOOGLE. I learnt how to create blogs through google, now I teach people how to create blogs. Also through a training I got from Enterprise Development Center in Lagos Nigeria, on getting Nigerian Businesses online by GOOGLE. I learnt how to create mini websites and now I earn income from creating websites for other small businesses.

Also I got trained on how to use social media to drive sales and succeed in business through EDC/ IFC partnership with IBM WOMEN CHALLENGE 2012. I was one of the 50 women chosen in Nigeria to be mentored on social media for one year by IBM Staffs. Through this eye opening experience using social media platforms I was able to recruit almost 100 mobile money agents nationwide without them seeing me, only about 10 have seen me physically and they pay to register through my bank account, the rest only communicate to me through emails and phone calls. All most all my business contact, came from my posts online.

As a woman learning how to use the computer and access the internet is very important.

Women need to be encouraged to use the internet , by empowering them economically, an adage say “ a hungry man is an angry man”. If a woman has enough income to to feed and cater for her family, it will be more easy for her create time and learn. And also pay for internet services.

Some factors mitigating women from accessing the internet includes;

1. They think it is hard to learn how to use the computer and internet.
2. Ability to create time to learn how to use the internet.
3. Some are intimidated by men in the cyber-café.
4. They have not enough income to pay for internet service, etc

To enable more women access the internet, I suggest the following;

1. Women needs to be empowered economically, they need to have income generating businesses or jobs, to enable them afford the cost accessing the internet.
2. We need to have more training centers, to train them for free or at an affordable price.
3. We need more offline campaigns, to tell these women about the huge benefits of accessing the internet.
4. Technology companies and Telco’s need to make the cost of accessing the internet cheap and also make more affordable internet enabled phones, laptops and desktops.

I don’t believe in an only women cybercafe, because we have a lot to learn from the men, I have learnt a lot about the internet/computer from men close to me. Also cyber café’s afe phasing out in Nigeria, because the cost of generating power and inter access is very high( most café’s you cannot download heavy files or go on you tube). Another challenge for café’s is the high penetration of internet enabled phones.

The future is MOBILE.

In my foundation from march 2014, we will start helping the women we train get online by

1. Training them on how to use the computer.
2. Training them on how to use the internet.
3. Making them come online by opening emails for all of them and introducing them to world pulse.
4. Teaching them on how to take their business online.
5. Showing them the huge benefits of accessing the internet.

At Mobile Money Biz Loan for Women, we train women to have vocational skills E.G making of liquid soaps, disinfectants ,petroleum jelly etc FOR FREE so that they can cater for their family.

Also we make the banked by registering them for mobile money, through their mobile phones, their phone numbers becomes their account numbers. They are trained on how to manage their business,trained on financial literacy and on how conduct financial transactions through their mobile phones, save into the mobile account etc. We intend to start giving them loans with little interest rate to sustain or start their business, as soon as we get the funding to do this.

I believe collectively through all our efforts as women, we can get more women online but first they need to be empowered economically(have businesses or jobs that generates income for them).

Thanks.

Okocha Nkem.

This story was written for World Pulse’s Women Weave the Web Digital Action Campaign. Learn more »

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Comments

kellyannaustin's picture

wonderful!

Thank you so much for sharing your story! Amazing. It's inspiring to hear about how you taught yourself to use computers and made a business out of it. And not only that, but you now share what you've learned with other women to help empower them. That's a model we can all admire.

Your idea that women first need to become economically empowered is an important one to consider. Getting from point A to point B is part of the battle for access.

Many thanks for sharing your experience,

Kelly

novine's picture

THANKS

Thanks Kelly.

Okocha Nkem
Founder.
Mobile Money Biz Loan For Women.

svetlanakim's picture

Hello Okocha, thank you!

Dear Okocha,

I'm delighted to connect with you! Thank you for reaching out to me.

And Google+ would be so great for you. I can train you how to use Google+ and you can have a conference call with your friends from your town or all over the world!

Let me know if I can be of any help.

I am impressed by your driven desire to make a change for yourself and others!

With gratitude,

Svetlana

Anything is Possible if You Dream Impossible Dreams!

svetlanakim's picture

Hello Okocha, thank you!

Dear Okocha,

I'm delighted to connect with you! Thank you for reaching out to me.

And Google+ would be so great for you. I can train you how to use Google+ and you can have a conference call with your friends from your town or all over the world!

Let me know if I can be of any help.

I am impressed by your driven desire to make a change for yourself and others!

With gratitude,

Svetlana

Anything is Possible if You Dream Impossible Dreams!

novine's picture

THANKS

Thanks Svetlana for accepting my request, I will be so happy to learn all about GOOGLE+ from u. I am so greatful.

Okocha Nkem
Founder.
Mobile Money Biz Loan For Women.

Hi, Okocha:

Great hearing from you! Let me me know when you can connect.
You can send me an email.

Look forward to meeting you on Google+.

With gratitude,

Svetlana

Anything is Possible if You Dream Impossible Dreams!

novine's picture

MY EMAIL

Thanks, I have done so.

Okocha Nkem
Founder.
Mobile Money Biz Loan For Women.

busayo's picture

Good piece!

You have really done a good job in highlighting the reasons why many women are not accessing internet. Thank you my sister for the the wonderful post

Love
Busayo

Busayo Obisakin
Women inspiration Development center
Ile-Ife, Nigeria
busobisaki@yahoo.com
womeninspirationcenter@gmail.com

novine's picture

THANKS

Thanks ma.

Okocha Nkem
Founder.
Mobile Money Biz Loan For Women.

Soumya Vilekar's picture

inspiring and encouraging

Dear Okocha,
your story is a lesson to every woman who wishes to learn and motivating for the ones who hesitate. Your initiatives and the zeal to learn has brought you so far and so shall you continue this journey . It is really touching to hear about your life.
With so much to do, your steps shall always be encouraging!
Thanks and best wishes,
Soumya

novine's picture

THANKS

Thanks Soumya. My most favourite quote is "Whatever the heart of a man,can concieve and believe it can achieve" Napoleon Hill. WE ALL HAVE GREATNESS WITHIN US.

Okocha Nkem
Founder.
Mobile Money Biz Loan For Women.

bitani's picture

awesome

Okocha, let me congratulate you for your ambition. It is stunning to know you have learned by yourself and that now you work in doing websites and have an sms company. Your strength inspires me, and am sure, inspires other community members here at world pulse.

as you said, "I still learn every day, because there is always something new."

regards,
Bayan

novine's picture

THANKS

Thanks Bayan, as a woman when there is no one to motivate you, you motivate yourself. My next challenge is learning how to create an app that will solve one or two problems for women.

Okocha Nkem
Founder.
Mobile Money Biz Loan For Women.

susa's picture

Inspiring and informative

Dear Okocha,

Thank you for sharing such an inspiring story and for including so much good information about barriers for women with respect to technology in general and internet access and use specifically. You are to be commended for your drive, ambition and entrepreneurship in creating something to improve the lives of so many women. I am so pleased to know that you have taken advantage of the training and mentorship opportunities that have been offered by technology providers and I hope you will spread the word to others about such opportunities. You have learned so well how to overcome so many barriers that women face with respect to technology and your leadership will be invaluable in helping others do the same.

More power to you!

Susa

novine's picture

THANKS

Thanks Susa.

Okocha Nkem
Founder.
Mobile Money Biz Loan For Women.

novine's picture

THANKS

Thanks Susa.

Okocha Nkem
Founder.
Mobile Money Biz Loan For Women.

Kristina M's picture

Wonderful Story

Okocha,

I am glad that you decided to share your story with us. It was inspiring to read how you decided to overcome the barriers at the internet café and teach yourself how to use a computer and the internet. Then using what you learned to first start up your own businesses and then passing on this knowledge to others is wonderful. I wish you all the success in continuing to empower women economically and to become more technology savvy.

Kristina

novine's picture

THANKS

Thanks Kristina, if we want more women online we need to empower them to have skills that they can use to generate income to pay for internet service,buy internet enabled phones,desk tops,laptops etc. Our first training for the year to empower 100 women and girls with livelihood skills will come up on 29th of march. these women wil be taught the basic essentials of the computer and internet, they will all get email accounts, the will be registered for mobile money and taught how to use mobile money applications that is JAVA, USSD & SMS IVR. They will be taught alot on that day.

Okocha Nkem
Founder.
Mobile Money Biz Loan For Women.

Kristina M's picture

Training

Wow, 100 women and girls, that is great! I wish you and them the best of luck in this endeavor.

Kristina

novine's picture

THANKS

Thanks,Kristina.

Okocha Nkem
Founder.
Mobile Money Biz Loan For Women.

Leslie Stoupas's picture

Impressive!

Dear Okocha,

It is impressive how many businesses you have managed through the internet and how many women you are teaching to use the internet for their own benefit. You really know how to use this tool and train others as well. That is definitely needed! Great job!

Leslie Stoupas

novine's picture

THANKS

Thanks leslie, we are just starting, we intend training at least 100 women each month to have skills that wil generate income 4 them and also training them on benefits and uses of internet.

Okocha Nkem
Founder.
Mobile Money Biz Loan For Women.

ccontreras's picture

Amazing!!

I love the fact that you have embraced the internet and have found websites that you like and you are active in trying to promote for women to have access to the internet too! I admire your courage to want to bring this forward and you can count on my support as well! :-)

"I embrace emerging experience. I am a butterfly. Not a butterfly collector." - Stafford

novine's picture

Thanks

Thanks Ccontreras, for wanting to support me. You can start by liking our Facebook page www.facebook.com/mmbl4w . Thanks

Okocha Nkem
Founder.
Mobile Money Biz Loan For Women.

louise pare's picture

Empowering women

I loved your story and all your great suggestions and ideas for how to empower women to use the internet.
Very thorough and highly informative.

I am very impressed with the business you have created. Love your FB page..."liked" it.

You are a very savvy and committed woman and the women and girls in your area are fortunate to have you
in their midst. I was delighted by the way you taught yourself to use the computer and internet.

Your point about the relationship between empowering women economically and empowering women through use of the internet is very important.

Thanks for all your hard work and for being such a powerful voice in your community.

Louise

Louise

novine's picture

Thanks

Thanks Louise, I have seen the notifications on Facebook. Thanks for liking our page. I believe that a financially independent woman has a better chance of accessing the internet.

Okocha Nkem
Founder.
Mobile Money Biz Loan For Women.

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