Women excel in digital literacy

ZimNet an Information Communication Technology (ICT) organization has begun implementing digital literacy training for women across the country. The aim of the initiative is to empower disadvantaged women with knowledge of ICTs for personal growth and expanded opportunities to improve their lives.

Talent Kurwaisimba – opened an internet café in Mutare.
Talent Kurwaisimba – opened an internet café in Mutare.

In a recent interview with The Zimbabwean, George Kamuzonde, the training manager for ZimNet said since its inception in January last year more than 1,000 women have been offered basic knowledge in ICT in Manicaland Province.

“We charge a registration fee of $20 and give training in the basics of computers. Participants also receive training materials. This has given many women a new degree of self-confidence and brought positive change to their lives,” he said.

The training covers basic computer skills, how to find job opportunities and how to start your own business by applying basic business entrepreneurship skills. Six and 12 month courses are available.

Great achievement

Janet Muneta from Sakubva high density in Mutare said she had no computer skills before she was trained under the ZimNet programme.

“This has been a great achievement for me. Before, I did not know how to use the internet and I had no skills in business at all. This programme benefited me a lot as I now know how to use the computer and can also use the internet to fine other courses of my choice. I plan to be enrolled for a higher computer course in business finance,” she said.

Talent Kurwaisimba said she participated in a six-month programme that saw her become technologically empowered.

“I did not know how to use the internet, how to browse or use a search engine. I also did not have any business skills. I have now initiated a partnership with two women in my community to start an internet café business,” she said.

Easy to use

The business is going well and demand is high she said, adding that “We are able to pay ourselves and pay for business premises rentals and materials.”

Another beneficiary of the training, Tsitsi Mukombwe, has been a business woman for over five years but has never interacted with computers in her life. “I joined the programme for a year and learnt about introduction to computers, Microsoft Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Access and Internet. Of all the packages I was most interested in Microsoft Excel which I am now using to record my daily sales and keep customer records,” she said.

Mukombwe found computers easy to use and friendly – in contrast to her original idea. “Before joining this programme I had a wrong perception that those who could use and own computers were intellectuals and that it was a very hard subject to understand,” she said.

Mukombwe testified how the skills she acquired have helped her to improve her business. “I can use Ms Word to design flyers to market my product, write official letters and do business plans. I use Ms Excel to calculate my profit, Powerpoint for presentations and the internet to market, search and network,” she said.

Women excluded

Mukombwe now has three computers of her own, which she is using to run her businesses as well as introduce new services in her shop.

Sabina Mugocha said: “These skills have changed my life. I can now use Skype, Facebook, Twitter and email to talk to friends. I am looking forward to enrolling for professional courses – mainly digital photography and video editing – to be able to capture events and make money on weekends from my passion of photography.”

Kamuzonde said ZiimNet’s vision was to spread ICT technologies ideas, cultures and awareness in the community using different methods. He said he had been inspired by the fact that most women in developing countries were completely excluded from ICT and made a decision to help to bridge the massive digital divide.

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