In the heart of Africa, where rural landscapes unfold, and communities thrive amidst the challenges of poverty, Imade Bibowei-osuobeni's vision for change took root. She is the founder of Tech Herfrica, a social impact enterprise on a mission to break the cycle of poverty for women and girls in underserved African communities through digital financial inclusion.
The Genesis of Tech Herfrica
Tech Herfrica's story begins with an inspiring encounter. In January, Imade was on a road trip that led her to a village, where she bought food items from a local female seller. The quality was superb, and the prices were a fraction of what she would have paid in the city. The seller, overwhelmed by her sale to Imade, burst into tears. This moment marked the birth of an idea that would later transform the lives of countless rural women.
Imade's question was simple but profound: "Do you have a mobile device?" The answer was "yes," and from this point, the idea emerged. What if rural women like her could harness the power of e-commerce and digital technology to connect with buyers, sell their products at fair prices, reduce food wastage, rise above poverty, and be included in the broader society?
The Tech Herfrica Approach
Tech Herfrica's core mission is to empower female farmers and traders in rural areas to prosper in the digital economy. Tech Herfrica's approach is comprehensive. They start by identifying women farmers and traders within specific communities and conducting needs assessments. The women then receive digital financial literacy training tailored to their language and literacy levels. Those without mobile devices are equipped, ensuring they have the means to connect with customers, access market and farming information, and manage financial services.
Moreover, Tech Herfrica supports these women with local technology to enhance production. Health insurance and long-term savings plans are integrated to ensure that their financial well-being continues to grow. On the customer side, Tech Herfrica's e-commerce platform, herlocalmarket, provides access to unadulterated food at affordable prices.
Key Milestones and Achievements
Tech Herfrica's impact speaks for itself. The organization has trained over 1,200 female farmers and traders in Nigeria, providing 200 of them with mobile devices. Through their e-commerce initiative, they have improved the income of beneficiaries by an impressive 56.6% on average. Additionally, Tech Herfrica has facilitated millions of Naira in trade for rural women and attracted more than 70% repeat customers.
Sustainability and Social Responsibility
Sustainability and social responsibility are at the heart of Tech Herfrica's practices. They encourage customers to reuse shopping bags, reducing waste, and minimizing the environmental impact. This small but meaningful step demonstrates their commitment to environmental consciousness.
The Future of Tech Herfrica
Imade's vision for Tech Herfrica extends far into the future. The organization aspires to foster digital financial inclusion for 10 million women and girls in rural areas across Africa, enabling them to prosper in the digital economy. Their strategy revolves around collaboration and evidence-based programming to train and equip women and girls with mobile devices and digital skills.
Imade and her team plan to onboard 100,000 farmers and traders in rural areas across Nigeria, Kenya, and Ghana on herlocalmarket within the next five years. Their goal is to help these entrepreneurs increase their income by at least 50%, making a significant and lasting impact on their lives.
Advice from Imade to Aspiring Entrepreneurs
Imade's journey with Tech Herfrica has taught her invaluable lessons. Her advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is clear: start from where you are, keep refining your vision as you progress, and understand that building a business takes time. Surround yourself with the right people, processes, systems, and structures to help you carry the weight of your vision.
Use lessons learned as your most important assets, track successes to replicate them, and learn from failures to improve. Stay self-motivated, even in the absence of external validation. Lastly, take calculated risks but ensure you understand them thoroughly.
Tech Herfrica's story is one of transformation, driven by the passion of an entrepreneur who saw the potential for change in the everyday lives of rural women. As the organization continues to expand its impact, it exemplifies how technology, when harnessed with a purpose, can create a brighter future for underserved communities in Africa.