ICT uplifts business women

CLAYTON MASEKESA reports on the positive effect of Information Communication Technology on Mutare business women.

Rudo Mahati - I now use ICT to enhance my business.

Rudo Mahati – I now use ICT to enhance my business.

Embracing ICT has empowered business women, increased their knowledge and expanded business opportunities for them. Members of the Mutare Women in Business (MWB), in collaboration with ICT organisation AceNet, have been offering digital literacy courses to women throughout the country.

In a recent interview, AceNet director Tarisai Nyahanana said since its inception in January 2012, 25 business women have received basic ICT training in Manicaland.

“The ladies each pay a $100 registration fee and we then provide basic computer knowledge. Women have gained in self-confidence and are introducing positive changes into their businesses as a result of this training,” said Nyahanana.

Great achievement
The computer training programmes cover topics such as basic computer skills and entrepreneurship skills on how to start a business. The training programme runs from six to 12 months.
Rudo Mahati, a beneficiary of the programme who operates a driving school, did not have any computer skills before attending the AceNet computer training programme.

“This has been a great achievement for me. I did not know how to use the internet or have any business skills. I know how to use a computer and use the internet to enhance my business. In today’s world everything is computerised. It is fast, quick and more accurate,” said Mahati. “I want a better understanding of business finance for the future expansion of my operations. I hope AceNet is going to organise similar courses in future.”

Eugine Hatendi, a business woman who sells crafts, participated in a six-month training programme. “The training was most helpful. I did not know how to use the internet or how to use it as a search engine and am glad to report that I managed to improve my business with the ICT knowledge gained,” she said.

“As I deal with a lot of foreign clients, I have set up a computerised client data base and am now in constant touch with my clients updating them on new products and offers. The demand from internet business is very brisk. The electronic business trade has been overwhelming,” she added.

“The skills acquired have changed my life. I now use Skype, Facebook, twitter and e.mail to communicate with customers. I am looking forward to enrolling for professional courses on digital photography and video editing to be able to capture images of the crafts,” said Hatendi.

Catering business
Business woman Natalie Hapagari, who has had a catering business for over five years, had never interacted with computers before. She heard of the computer programme and realised that it was the perfect opportunity for her to get the necessary skills.

“I joined the programme for a year and was introduced to computers, Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access and the Internet. Of all the packages, I was most interested in Excel which I now use to record daily sales and keep customer records,” she said.

Hapagari added that the once scary computers are now very user friendly. “Before joining the programme I was under the impression that people who owned and used computers were intellectuals and that computers were a very hard subject to understand. I now have three computers, I design my own flyers to market my business, write official letters and draw up business plans. I calculate profit, use PowerPoint to do presentations and use the internet to market, do research and for networking,” she said.

Director Nyahanana advised that AceNet’s vision is to spread ICT technology throughout communities and cultures and to create more awareness. He mentioned that most women in developing countries are completely excluded from computer technology and that this resulted in a big digital divide within these backward countries.

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