CLICK AND PROSPER: NAKAWA WOMEN GO DIGITAL FOR PERSONAL AND BUSINESS GROWTH.
The women of Nakawa, Kampala-Uganda lack skills to access and share handy information and are therefore unable to enjoy the benefits of the power of information and other social media.
Digital empowerment is one of the key focus areas as we continue to drive the Nakawa women's development agenda. In my leadership role, I am affiliated to several initiatives such as the Nakawa Blessed SACCO (NBS), the Nakawa Division Women's Council (NDWC) and we have immensely benefited from Information Communication Technology (ICT). For instance the NDWC has in the past competed in several on-line applications for local and international awards and has won several bids, for instance the project titled, "Empowering the Nakawa Division Women's Council Leaders for effective participation in legislation and decision making under a multiparty political dispensation in Uganda'' ,funded by the African Women's Development Fund in 2007. Recently, on 31st July 2014, Uganda launched the Beijing Platform for Action +20, at a function presided over by the First Lady Hon. Janet Museveni. The grassroots women of Nakawa were able to attend and be a part of this high profile function only because of minimal internet intervention, since as their grassroots coordinator, I was able to relay the necessary details and communicate back and forth with the main organizers of the above function. Attending this function was inspirational for the Nakawa women alongside the learning, sharing and networking opportunities offered. In addition to this, individual NDWC and NBS members have reported participating in on-line courses and earning certificates- all enhancing career and business opportunities. I successfully completed two international on-line courses in Family Planning/Reproductive Health and HIV Management in 2011 and these supported my subsequent opportunities/qualifications for consultancy services. Furthermore, my two most recent jobs resulted from internet application. A few other members have also reported earning jobs and assignments on the internet. One Ms Nanyonga, Director of an NGO dealing in producing goods out of waste material, has expanded widely and internationally; including recording award achievements. One of her strong points is web existence; hence computer compliant members of NDWC have recorded huge gains as a result of this technology.
Going forward, NBS will train women, and equip them with the requisite digital skills. The proposed training will in addition introduce women to and or expand their e-business opportunities and influence the careers of girls and women in technology and other areas hence create employment. Training will be offered in both English and Luganda, a local language commonly used for most community meetings. Internet skills provided to the wider, underserved women community, will increase opportunity in running businesses activities that include crafts, petty trade, market vending, fish farming, poultry, mushroom growing; this will result into improved livelihood. Providing computer and internet skills to the women leaders and other women will empower them to mobilize others through providing and sharing social and business information such as prices of goods, sources of goods at competitive rates, hence the underserved will access goods at fair prices or sell at competitive rates, maximize profits, consequently advancing their goals. Women will be empowered to advertise products and services, get their businesses known at the click of a button. Nakawa Blessed SACCO, a women led cooperatives initiative will in addition provide women user friendly and accessible internet services at fair and reasonable price. NBS will partner with NDWC and other organizations that will utilise this service. Aside from bringing the service within reasonable physical access to the local community, NBS will offer special rate loans for modems, phones and computers as an additional loan product for members who need this service to enhance individual access to the internet. Above developments will counteract the low level of computer literacy among women and NBS as noted also by the Kenya’s Minister for Cooperative Development and Marketing who lamented the inconsistent level of ICT adoption in relation to the fast growth of the Savings, Credit and Cooperative Organization SACCO movement and the serious challenge this posed to the movement. (Henry M.Bwisa, October 2010).