We live in an era where women are a force of their own. The doors of opportunities are wide open for them to showcase their talents, abilities and their skills. Today’s digital world has provided the perfect platform for women to start their businesses. Though many women have managed to break barriers and shine in their respective fields, many are unable to do so due to various reasons.
The World Bank’s Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative in a recent article stated despite a high literacy rate among women in Sri Lanka, only 32 per cent are in the workforce and women own only 25 per cent of these SMEs.
However, some women have embarked on self-employment initiatives but have faced numerous challenges at numerous stages of their businesses. A key reason for this situation is the lack of technical knowledge and guidance about the digital space and digital entrepreneurship. Dialog, Sri Lanka’s premier connectivity provider, has identified this gap and as a corporate citizen who is keen to uplift and encourage the livelihoods of Sri Lankan women launched Ideamart for women (IFW), a female entrepreneurship empowerment programme specifically designed to promote digital entrepreneurship among women to improve their technical skills through the use of ICT facilities and training.
The programme has been designed with key objectives to build financial independence and increase female participation in the ICT sector. The programme is focused on building financial independence, increasing female participation and supporting training sessions and resources to digitise the business or start a digital business which will help access to larger markets. The platform has partnered with Aya, a programme by the State Ministry of Women and Child Development. The objective was to reach out to female entrepreneurs.
In addition, the Diriyen ediriyata programme is a special, and free programme and workshop developed for female entrepreneurs who are interested in starting a business, to advice from industry experts. IFW together with Techliya provides a series of free online webinars providing financial, legal and technical advice and guidance to aspiring female entrepreneurs. IFW has also taken part in Hackathons at university and school levels, targeted at female students to create interest in ICT and develop their knowledge.
Furthermore, Ideamart for women (IFW) offers a range of services to female entrepreneurs, such as providing technical knowledge and support to match the business requirements. It offers a range of developed services which can be readily plugged in without any cost – eg – SMS /marketing/payments platforms. The platform also provides marketing support and knowledge to promote the service digitally. In addition, IFW also functions as a mentor to aspiring women entrepreneurs, helping them in each of their steps towards success. IFW also offers rewards to female entrepreneurs based on their growth and progress.
Ideamart For Women offers the following platforms, Ideamart, app maker, I-buy and marketplace. With these platforms, any female entrepreneur can develop mobile solutions and mobile applications to provide unique digital solutions to their customers at no additional cost. The IFW platform also offers a fully-fledged eCommerce platform for business growth and easy advertising options to connect with customers directly.
While proving to be a perfect platform for women entrepreneurs, IFW has also received global accolades by being recognised and shortlisted for the Global Mobile Awards 2021 for a second consecutive year.