In honor of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, I’m reminded of 4 inspiring female entrepreneurs whom I met in Southeast Asia recently. Through my work with Qualcomm Wireless Reach, I have the opportunity to meet individuals around the world who are utilizing mobile technology to transform their lives.
Many women in developing and emerging markets have the ideas and ambitions needed to succeed, but they are held back by a lack of access to business skills, education, technology, networks and capital. Investments in programs that provide women this much needed access can be life-changing for them-and their communities.
Unfortunately, despite the dramatic surge in mobile communications, women in emerging economies are not fully realizing the benefits of this technology. Women represent a significant part of the population without mobile phone access.
According to the GSMA Connected Women 2015 report “Bridging the gender gap: Mobile access and usage in low and middle-income countries,” immediately closing the gender gap in ownership would help an estimated 200 million women gain access to mobile phones…which could empower that many entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurship is crucial for economic development around the world and I want to share the stories of 4 enterprising women who have tapped into technology to become successful entrepreneurs in their own right.
Two years ago, Typhoon Haiyan devastated the island of Leyte in the Philippines. Through a collaboration with Hapinoy, a local social enterprise, women are rebuilding the economy by providing mobile money services with their mobile phones. Alicia Dum Dum and Bella Sadongdong are “nanays” in the Mobile Money Hub program.
In Tagalog, “nanay” is a term of endearment that means mother. Mothers and business owners alike, these women lost their roadside shops (sari-sari stores) during the typhoon and have spent the last 2 years putting their lives back together, and here are their stories:
The introduction of mobile money, where they are able to offer mobile banking services from their smartphones to a largely unbanked community, has been an integral part to stimulating the local economy and generating revenue for themselves.
In Malaysia, many women support their families by providing services, such as baking or tailoring. Integrating mobile technology into the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women’s Mentoring Women in Business Program has enabled women to launch businesses from their homes, access a critical support system through online platforms like Skype and WhatsApp and market their businesses through social media. This program combines mentoring with technology to offer cross-border support to unlock the potential of women entrepreneurs.
Women like Haziqah Huzuri, who launched Scrummy Cake Design (check out her Instagram page!) and single mother Putri Hamzah, who makes bespoke women’s clothing through her Hatasia Curvy label welcomed me into their homes to share their stories, feed me delicious muffins and sketch out a design for a dress for my daughter, all the while expressing how grateful they are for the myriad ways mobile technology has transformed their lives and given them a sense of purpose and accomplishment through their businesses.
In their own words, here are their stories:
In celebration of these women and all women entrepreneurs across the globe, let's honor them by sharing their stories and supporting their businesses! To learn more about how you can mentor an entrepreneur or sponsor a nanay, tweet @QCWirelessReach.
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Michelle Martin manages global communications and marketing for Qualcomm® Wireless Reach™, an initiative that brings wireless technology to underserved communities around the world to positively impact social and economic development