The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) awarded $2 million in grant funding in round two of the WomenConnect Challenge (WCC). This Challenge is part of a whole-of-U.S. Government effort that aims to reach 50 million women in the developing world by 2025.
When women are economically empowered, they invest back into their families and communities, producing a multiplier effect that spurs growth and stability. The WomenConnect Challenge seeks to bridge the gender digital divide so that women can fully participate in the global economy.
Winner: Dimagi Inc. - Coach Carene: A Chatbot for Women’s Economic Empowerment
Dimagi, Inc., in partnership with Women for Women International (WfWI), is creating “Coach Carene,” a chatbot that will provide vocational and financial literacy training and other resources for women in Rwanda. Primarily designed for participants and graduates of WfWI’s long-standing and successful women’s empowerment training, Coach Carene will offer users opportunities to further develop and apply skills learned with WfWI and will provide access to coaching and support resources beyond the duration of the program. Dimagi and partners will work with women to ensure this innovative mobile solution adds extensive value through skill-refreshers, income generation support, coaching, access to local resources and ongoing vocation training, and goal setting/budget setting assistance.
Winner: United Purpose - Tekki Jigeen
United Purpose, in collaboration with women community collectives in Senegal, is developing Tekki Jigeen, a digital program that provides rural women with entrepreneurial training, resources, and banking services to help them overcome barriers they face in agricultural value chains, including access to credit services. There are an estimated 6 million adults in Senegal who use no formal financial services, 87% of whom are women and the majority of whom depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Tekki Jigeen will help improve women’s knowledge of and access to multiple business support services, while working with financial and microfinance institutions to conduct gender-equitable credit scoring. Additionally, the program’s entrepreneurial training will be delivered by women, for women, and in local languages on 36 community radio stations and on a variety of interactive mobile phone messaging platforms. Through Tekki Jigeen, United Purpose aims to increase the number of women entrepreneurs applying and being approved for credit and loans and to demonstrate how ICT solutions can enable better access to these services.
Winner: Solidaridad - Digital Inclusion and Empowerment for Women Dairy Farmers in Bangladesh
Solidaridad is linking women dairy farmers in Bangladesh to formal supply chains and delivering critical information about competitive market prices, financial literacy, and modern dairy practices. In this project, women across five districts will have the opportunity to enroll in a mobile money program that offers trainings in financial and dairy-farming best practices and provides resources to improve joint decision making in the family. Solidaridad is developing a digital application called the i2i app that will collect data from the milk collection centers and link to the mobile wallets of women farmers, such that women will be able to directly and conveniently receive their income, reducing instances of fraud or exploitation. The project endeavors to create long-lasting, sustainable change in the Bangladesh dairy industry, with an emphasis on empowering women farmers who form the backbone of the sector.