At least 35 young women entrepreneurs have started a four-month fellowship programme designed to empower young women with skills, confidence and experience in driving technology adoption in their communities and surrounding areas.
The programme kicked off last week as 35 young women winded up a ‘boot-camp’ workshop held in Rubavu District on entrepreneurship and driving technology adoption among farmers and rural users.
The Young Women’s Entrepreneurs Fellowship (YWEF) is being run by N-Frnds, a global technology company that enables users to access advanced cloud-based software services from mobile phones.
Over the next four months, fellows will be paired with local mentors who will meet them on a weekly basis to help them refine and further develop their business models and get feedback from customers. They will also receive further training during the next follow-on ‘boot-camp’ in engaging farmers and will be sent to do demonstrations of the N-Frnds digital platform to farmers in the region.
According to Grace Mugabekazi, who is managing the programme, the N-Frnds entrepreneurship fellowship is an exceptional opportunity for young women to gain new skills, understand their community and market better, and to create real time value over the N-Frnds technology platform.
During the three-day boot-camp, the fellows learned to use innovative thinking methodologies, gained tools for business model generation and gained experience in driving technology adoption as well as interacting confidently with potential customers or partners.
The fellowship is specifically designed for entrepreneurs in the rural context to apply the concept of innovation with constraints as the young women learn how to use resources at hand and how limited resources can successfully lead to greatest innovations. The fellows are also taught about business-related services including financial inclusion, virtual point of sale, digital transactions, supply chain automation, loyalty, knowledge management, content management, search and a range of mobile agricultural services.
Supported by USAID, the fellowship aims to create opportunities for local youth while complementing N-Frnds’ work in driving digital transformation in the agriculture sector. N-Frnds also partners with Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources to digitize key agricultural information and value chain processes. Under this partnership, N-Frnds plans to reach 15 000 farmers by 2018 and to train a total of 120 young entrepreneurs to support technology adoption of smallholder farmers throughout Rwanda.
With a rapidly growing user base of over 15 million end-users globally, N-Frnds specializes in extending the reach of enterprises, governments and financial institutions in emerging markets by connecting them to their end-users, suppliers or customers. N-Frnds platform is live on both MTN (*847#) and Tigo (*365#).