The long-awaited and widely publicized I-Woman (Innovative Woman) free ICT training with theme “Bridging the Gender Digital Divide” organized by GEMS Initiative, an initiative that seeks to bridge the gap of inequality in education and opportunities for all, supported by GOOGLE Nigeria, and sponsored by Do Movement, National Center for Women Development, YOTAF Entertainment World, Total Cost Management, OBIIANUJU.Com, was held successfully on Friday, 17th February, 2017. Before this date, women from far and wide sent in their applications after which the selected few were sent a Google form to fill. On completion and submission of the filled forms, the participants were sent text messages with details of venue, date and time of the training.
The iWoman is an acronym for an Innovative Woman in the 21st century, a Tech-4-good training that seeks to reawaken the digital mind-set of the African woman. This project is particular about promoting the rise of female Technology entrepreneur and the possibilities she has to offer locally and globally.
The training which held at the National Centre for Women Development, Central Business District, Abuja, saw about over 100 girls, ladies and women in attendance, as well as, kicked off at about 9a.m. This project constructively targeted at young female entrepreneurs, self-employed ladies, freelancers and business owners and aimed at equipping young African women with useful technological knowledge to improve their businesses by leveraging the internet for achieving their business and personal goals such as acquiring, converting and retaining online customers.
The training session was moderated by Victor Akoyibo, Project Coordinator and assisted by Umeakunne Lilian Chinelo, Communications Assistant. It was an interactive session, as the training went orderly as planned.
Ohadoma Maryjessica the Project Director, buttressed more on the objectives of the iWoman Training, and how the women present could utilize these opportunities as they restrategize and translate lessons learnt to the growth and successful running of their businesses.
Precious Ebere, Founder of GEMS Initiative, in her speech, spoke exclusively about the vision of GEMS Initiative, as a Non-Profit organization set out to bridge gap of inequalities in education and other areas of opportunity. GEMS Initiative is engaged in various capacity building activities such as ICT trainings, free personal development trainings, seminars, boot camps etc for children and women as well as carry out education intervention projects. So far, the initiative has positively impacted the lives of over 1000 children and over 200 women in Nigeria and still impacting. She buttressed one of the ways forward, which she mentioned as equipping women and girls with basic ICT skills, thus, making them windows of relevant information to scale up their business and personal development. She ended her speech by saying: “We would not stop the iWoman practical training sessions, until our girls and women have comprehensively understood the tactics and strategies across social media, mobile marketing, online analytics, and search engine marketing and fully leveraged on the Internet for achieving their business goals such as acquiring, retaining and converting online customers to monetary value”.
The acting Director General, National Centre for Women Development, Mallam Sadique Umar, officially welcomed all trainees to the Centre, gave them a brief of the Centre’s core values, achievements so far and various trainings available. He also implored them to make good use of the rare opportunity, pay rapt attention to all the sessions, ask questions on grey areas and get ready to implement lessons learnt and points gathered in their various businesses and life endeavors. Mallam Umar also cited some success stories of women who have undergone the same process. He went further to urge all in attendance to have a tour of the entire facility and share their experiences/inculcate knowledge learnt in other women not present.
The commencement of the session witnessed the introduction of all the trainees. Afterwards, the different trainers came up one at a time, all with their well-researched and developed slide shows of training scripts. The first training was taken by Mr. Johnson Morrison Udobong, Head, ICT, National Centre for Women Development on the topic “Promoting Women and Girls’ Access to ICT to Accelerate Gender Equality and Empowerment”. This session shed light on the definition of an entrepreneur, ICT and different applications of ICT. Quotes like “If you educate a man, you educate one person. If you educate one woman, you educate a nation”, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn”- Alvin Toffler and “The only limits we have are the limits we give ourselves”- Diego Sanchez, were displayed and these served as the turning point.
The second trainer, Barr. Mrs. Ephey N. Malo, Country Director of the group “Power for All” and CEO of “Climate Clean Tech Hub”, took the class on a tour of her passion, interests, business experience and close contacts with creative women. Her passion was fueled by her love for the girl child and especially by her concern and desire to provide electricity for all Nigerians through a cheaper means – Green Technology, considering the fact that 300 CHIBOK girls were taken into captivity in the course of their pursuit of formal education and largely because the unavailability of electricity in their school area. For Barr. Ify, that raised her eyebrow, gave her serious concern and made her move to action. Additionally, she gave quite encouraging success stories of women who have taken their businesses, skills and brands seriously, packaging them well and consistently promoting them with the use of social media. In conclusion, she urged all ladies present to understand, recognize and utilize the available market for their services/brands and use ICT as a viable platform for advertising and converting their social media to paying clients.
The next trainer, Barr. Mrs. Bisayo Busari-Akinnadeju dwelt on the topic “ICT Early Child Development – Parents’ Role”. She talked about Early childhood development, Importance of child development, ICT and Early child development, ICT in early years, What parents should know, Reasons why ICT matters in Early childhood education and Useful tips for mothers. In rounding off, her husband, Mr. Akinnadeju lent a voice to his wife, making the crowd of women understand that they have an extraordinary strength which when put into full use, can move mountains. He therefore, charged all present to look inwards and think outside the box, be creative and become great in their various fields.
Mrs. Nneoma, the 4th trainer and speaker took the topic “Difference between women in tech and women doing tech.” She made mention of women holding high positions in big world organizations and companies such as Dr. Anna Patterson, Vice President of Engineering, Artificial Intelligence at Google. Five (5) endearing qualities (Patience, Frugality, Intuition, Zero Ego and Discipline) embedded in women for excellence and which give them an edge over their male counterparts, were explained one after the other.She encouraged the trainees not to limit themselves but also try to delve into computer programming and coding.
While waiting for the final trainer for the day to get started, Mrs. Ify Odi-Okafor used the opportunity to invite the women to the International Security Workshop 2017 holding in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from 27th to 30th March, 2017 with theme: “Women, Peace Advocacy and Security Matters for Nation Building.” The conference is scheduled to have Nigeria’s first female Rear-Admiral, Rear-Admiral Itunu Hotonu and Kalanne Fubara-Obinwa, Regional Director, International Operations (Africa), Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce, amongst others, in attendance.
Then came the climaxing presentation by the Google Representative, Mrs. Obiianuju Asika on the topic “Google – The Online Opportunity.” This was a very long interactive, interesting and lesson-filled session. The trainer covered the archaic use of old information systems, ways of advertising before the internet came and the emergence of the online opportunity (the Smartphone and internet penetration). She gave the present and future estimated statistics of Africans online, threw more light on the benefits of digitization, basic marketing concepts, evolution of marketing with examples, what technology brings to business, future technology,, online strategy options, target audience, the new customer journey. An interesting part of this session was the interactive and brainstorming process of bringing out the features of a particular brand, considering the target audience, other necessary factors and ways to project the business using online digital platforms. The last talk was successfully brought to an end. All classes were quite interactive as each ended with a question-and-answer session, networking and obtaining of contact details.
Taking of group photographs ensued. Afterwards, lunch was served and of course, networking continued. Going by interviews conducted and views of participants taken, the training was reported to be worth their time, eye-opening and quite useful and commendable. They promised to implement lessons learnt from the training in their businesses and careers in order to become wealth creators and able employers of labor, using ICT to drive their market. I strongly advise women to be on the lookout for future similar opportunities. Thumbs up to the organizers!