In a previous blog, Michael wrote about the work we have been doing with the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) for almost a year now - developing a training programme to teach partners of CIPE’s network how to better communicate and carry out their advocacy efforts via the use of technology. The programme is the brainchild of Maiko Nakagaki, Programme Officer (Global) at CIPE who identified a need and opportunity to bolster their partner’s capacity to better serve their members through the integration of technology. The initial phase of our project consisted of surveys and in-depth interviews to assist us in identifying several high-need countries to conduct the training workshops. The first of those, Nigeria, took place on February 15-16 where I was hosted by the Association of Nigerian Women Business Network (ANWBN) to deliver four modules: Research, Polling and Tracking, Communication, and Online Presence.
Many of the ANWBN coalition was represented across the two days including International Women Society of Nigeria (IWSN), Women’s Consortium of Nigeria (WOCON), and NACCIMA Women Wing (NAWOG). The training consisted of live demos and hands on activities which was great fun given the how keen the group was to learn. Of course there were the obvious concerns when preparing to deliver the training – limited bandwidth and power outages being the main ones – but the internet held strong and the outages kindly timed themselves with our scheduled breaks! One of the key outcomes was to ensure that there would be uptake of some of the tools that we trained the attendees on. For that to be a viable option, they needed to be free or low-cost, require minimal bandwidth, be accessible across multiple devices and easy to implement and use. With that in mind, we opted to use a couple of Google tools: Alerts and Forms; BulkSMS and SMS Poll to cover communication and capturing data on basic devices; and Feedly.
The women - and our two distinguished male attendees - were a lively group and there was a lot of open discussion around the challenges they were facing on a daily basis. Reaching the masses who remain without data services, the cost of maintaining a website, and gathering information out to the women in their networks proved to be some of the greatest challenges. We took live polling during the two days and when asking what tools were the most useful that they felt they would use again, Google Forms seemed to come out on top, although it should be noted that we hadn’t yet worked through our final module at the time of polling – basic website design using Wordpress. The second day concluded with presentation of the websites they had designed all the space of a couple of hours. It was inspiring to watch how well the attendees all collaborated, and the level of engagement across the two days certainly made my visa procurement challenges worth all the hassle!
Nigeria is a country that has seen an incredible amount of wealth derived mostly from the oil industry, however the wealth has not been evenly distributed and many challenges remain. The organisations we worked with are all in their own way campaigning for a fairer system and are driving the growth and development of women in business in Nigeria. That we were able to walk away from the two days having taught them some valuable new skills that will play a role in helping them to achieve their goals was an incredible and rewarding experience. I encourage you all to take a look at some of the work CIPE - and the ANWBN - are doing to advocate for democracy and support enterprises. And watch out for a follow up blog post when I report back on how many of the organisations have implemented any of the tools we worked with – they have already formed a very active and supportive WhatsApp group that I am enjoying being part of!