Online Empowerment, Can lead to Offline Empowerment, The YOUWIN Women Story
Online empowerment can lead to offline empowerment, me and 1,199 women are living proofs on the above subject matter.
It all began in the year 2012, the Federal government of Nigeria in collaboration with various partners, the World Bank inclusive advertized a business plan competition called "Youth Enterprise with innovation, with the acronym YOUWIN. It is an innovative business plan competition aimed at business idea development for startups existing businesses, and job creation. The grant was from $6,000-$80,000. Eligibility is a post secondary school qualification, a woman and Nigerian between the ages of 18-45 years, and the enterprise must be established In Nigeria.
Registration and the business plan template was only online, accessible on the YOUWIN website, which meant there was a lot of interaction online everyday, to beat timelines. Before then most of the women had never spent that amount of time on the net. We were one hundred and seventy thousand women (170, 000) that applied, six thousand (6000) of the best were selected to proceed to the finals. We recieved trainings on basic entrepreneurship, the training materials was only available online, we had to download the pdf and powerpoint versions for studies offline, including the automated excel sheets, for cash flow projections, profit and loss. Apart from the facilitators, the only interaction with the secretariat was via emails, or the website and short messaging system (SMS) through our phones.
One thousand two hundred of us emerged winners in the finals. It became national news, because for the first time in a nation were everything is always done based on nepotism and god fatherism, the YOUWIN program was very transparent. 99% of this was achieved through the application of ICT tools and the internet that didnt allow, the markers to have a clue of the applicants.
We began another series of training called booth camps, which was facilitated by the Directorate of International Development (DFID) of the British Government and the "Make it happen Group, an online complete business support system specially tailored for YOUWIN winners. The website has been a tremendous help to us offering full support from actualizing our business plans to operations. It is also interactive, so we are able to network, connect and share information with fellow awardees, like i have been telling them about World pulse. We get experts advice, access a wide range of resources guides and fact sheets.
We have recieved our grants, our business have taken off and doing well, our business skills have sharpened, in Nigeria, 1,200 great businesses have been birthed from Agribusiness, Children's parks, film production, schools providing quality education, recycling, biodegradables and other industries to numerous to mention.
To this journal I will also add that prior to this competition I had never written a business plan before, I accessed all the information I used from the Internet, with all I know now I have become an expert doing other business plan and earning money from it. Through online empowerment our capacity has been built, for offline empowerment