Four strategies for helping women in fragile settings succeed in the digital economy

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The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is disproportionately impacting women’s livelihoods. Young women are more prone to unemployment and under-employment than men, and many work in service and informal sector jobs that have been most disrupted during the crisis.

As part of their COVID-19 response, governments are exploring digital solutions to promote economic recovery. However, gender gaps in internet use and mobile phone access mean that job opportunities in the digital economy remain out of reach for many women. This inequality is exacerbated in communities affected by fragility, conflict and violence (FCV), where women often face greater safety and security concerns, significant mobility constraints, and restrictive socio-cultural norms. This is the case in Kaduna, a state in northern Nigeria affected by years of conflict and instability.

Four strategies for helping women in fragile settings succeed in the digital economy - Brand Spur
Women excited to participate in the Click-On Kaduna digital skills training program in Kaduna State, Nigeria. Photo: Click-On Kaduna Program.

So how can we make sure that women in FCV settings aren’t left behind in the shift to digital? The success of the recent Click-On Kaduna program offers valuable insights.

Four strategies for helping women in fragile settings succeed in the digital economy - Brand Spur
A participant and her son enjoying the Click-On Kaduna digital skills training program in Kaduna State, Nigeria. Photo: Click-On Kaduna Program.

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Digital jobs for vulnerable young women in Northwest Nigeria

In early 2019, Hauwa A. was unemployed, and her lack of self-confidence kept her from starting a business. Meanwhile, Nana M., a university graduate with a degree in health economics, had a passion for information technology – yet despite her best efforts, she couldn’t find full-time employment in the IT industry.

These frustrations are common for young women in Northwest Nigeria, where economic development is stagnant and digital infrastructure remains underdeveloped. Kaduna State has the second-highest unemployment rate (26.8%) and the second-highest under-employment rate (31.0%) in the Northwest zone.

The World Bank, with support from the Rockefeller Foundation, designed the Click-On Kaduna pilot to demonstrate how digital jobs can help young women in FCV contexts break barriers to employment. The program ran from April to December 2018 and provided digital skills training and entrepreneurship support to over 1,500 men and women aged 18 to 40 in Kaduna State. Over 40% were women; trainees submitted video applications as part of a competitive selection process. Together, participants have generated over $200,000 in income, including online work.

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Four strategies for helping women in fragile settings succeed in the digital economy - Brand Spur
Left: Children enjoying the Click-On Kaduna program childcare facilities. Right: Participants during a women-only soft skills training course. Photos: Click-On Kaduna Program.

Strategies for helping women in FCV contexts enter the digital economy

The Click-On Kaduna team implemented four key gender-inclusive strategies to help its women participants succeed:

  • Participation incentives: The team realized that women would need safe childcare options if they were to participate fully in the training. The Click-On Kaduna team offered free daycare spaces for children, as well as free meals to participants. By providing childcare, meals, and other support, digital jobs programs can increase the likelihood of women’s participation and success.
  • Community buy-in: Social and cultural norms around appropriate types of work can restrict women’s participation in the digital economy. Click-On Kaduna launched media campaigns to raise awareness of the benefits of digital skills and entrepreneurship, especially for women. The team engaged with the male community and religious leaders to encourage women’s participation. They also invited husbands to a “come to school day” so that they could better understand the training and work that the women were doing. This community support can reduce the risk of interpersonal violence, targeted attacks, or retaliation against women who might otherwise be seen as violating local cultural norms.
  • Flexible curriculum: Ongoing unrest in the region led to mandatory curfews and increased travel restrictions. Anticipating such challenges, the Click-On Kaduna designed a flexible curriculum that allowed for both in-person and online training. This blended approach allowed women, in particular, to continue to develop digital skills and perform online work while prioritizing their safety.
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The Click-On Kaduna program has empowered women to access new jobs in the digital economy. Gone is Hauwa’s lack of confidence. She’ s now a certified digital marketer with her own content strategy business. Nana is currently an IT administrator for one of the biggest banks in Nigeria. And many female trainees are using their new digital skills to perform online freelancing work during the ongoing pandemic.

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During this unprecedented global crisis, similar training programs can be implemented remotely. Safe training locations for women can be modified to meet health and safety protocols. Online training delivery can expand to include mentorship, and digital platforms can build virtual support communities for women. Governments can ensure that digital skills and entrepreneurship initiatives in FCV contexts are safe and inclusive and that women can thrive in the digital age. Just ask Hauwa and Nana.

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Four strategies for helping women in fragile settings succeed in the digital economy - Brand SpurFour strategies for helping women in fragile settings succeed in the digital economy - Brand Spur

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Four strategies for helping women in fragile settings succeed in the digital economy - Brand SpurFour strategies for helping women in fragile settings succeed in the digital economy - Brand Spur

Latest News

New entrant AECO Energy launches business innovation to deliver ‘last mile of value chain’ to Singapore’s maturing open electricity market

  • AECO Energy announces the launch of its operations in Singapore to provide innovation to the open electricity market for businesses with generation 2.0 of its technology and service offerings.
  • The company will introduce three solutions as part of its initial portfolio, customisable to specific business needs.
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SINGAPORE - Media OutReach - 13 April 2021 - AECO Energy, a new entrant to Singapore's electricity sector, has today announced the launch of its operations. AECO Energy will be the first-of-its kind energy technology and services company aimed at innovating customer-centric offerings in electricity and renewable energy markets.

With over 12 years of experience in delivering open market electricity services and solutions to businesses in Australia under the Power Choice brand, AECO Energy is bringing its second generation of services and technology to Singapore for the first time. AECO's second generation delivers on two major offerings.

Firstly, AECO delivers the 'last mile' of value in Singapore Open Electricity Market (OEM) value chain by providing innovative services to assist businesses to manage, plan and make better buying decisions.

AECO is all about enabling increased profits for businesses. AECO has a customer-centric mission to use its low-cost proven technology and expert-led services to enable better business decisions within a complex electricity market with multiple providers and opaque medium- to long-term pricing information. This comes against the backdrop of Singapore's maturing OEM, which gives businesses and consumers the autonomy to buy and choose their electricity providers - the freedom to choose.

AECO Energy's technology platform, MarketPro™ with its unique, electricity futures market simulator Rate Watch™, delivers business and electricity efficiency and empowers businesses through relevant and timely pricing information, while also helping Singapore businesses make better buying decisions via automated tenders and reverse auctions. Moreover, for businesses who do not have the capability and capacity to manage and purchase its own electricity, AECO Energy Portfolio™ delivers scalable buying power with a fully-managed contract management and purchasing aggregation service for small, medium and large businesses.

Alan Jones, CEO, Chairman & Founder, AECO Energy, said: "We are incredibly excited and humbled to be joining Singapore's dynamic energy scene with our low-cost, high-value products and services. Our mission is clear: just like Amazon is revolutionising the 'last mile' of product supply chains with its same day delivery, we are also delivering the 'last mile' of the value chain in Singapore's OEM that enables more businesses better purchasing decisions, more business profitability and growing all of Singapore's economy."

Secondly, with SGX-listed entities, enterprises and multinational corporations (MNCs)' increasing emphasis on sustainability, AECO (through its SustainPro™ offering) will bring for the first-time in Singapore the benefit of AECO's direct relationship with generators of International Renewable Certificates (I-REC). This enables Southeast Asian markets the benefit of medium- to long-term low-cost and structured REC solutions to meet renewable energy targets and sustainability goals. This translates to more profits by providing more predictable costs for businesses in meeting their sustainability and renewable energy goals.

"As a specialised company, unburdened with corporate overheads and distractions from Singapore's local market participants, we can offer companies who are based anywhere in Southeast Asia, sustainability and renewable energy solutions that span markets and countries at a lower and more predictable price. We are honoured to play our part to bring sustainability and increased renewable energy throughout the world and to do so while benefiting our customers' cost structures," continued Mr. Jones.

AECO Energy is introducing three offerings as part of its electricity management solutions:

  • MarketPro™: Businesses can optimise costs and seize market opportunities with exclusive access to customised market price information through AECO Energy's integrated online procurement and management platform equipped with Rate Watch™, a market simulation and automated procurement technology from as low as SGD $149 per month.
  • Portfolio™: Businesses get exclusive access to economies of scale with better buying power through professional and expert-managed energy procurement portfolios overseen by AECO Energy experts. This allows enterprises to focus on their core business while AECO Energy experts will fully-manage their electricity contracts and make better buying decisions on their behalf from as low as an additional SGD $74 per month.
  • SustainPro™: SustainPro focuses on helping businesses meet their sustainability goals at the lowest cost. AECO Energy offers lower costs on the procurement of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) and tailored REC supply solutions designed to meet transition needs towards a more sustainable business.

"With the understanding that business needs are unique for every organisation, our energy experts will work closely with customers here in Singapore to help them reduce costs, drive efficiency and make better buying decisions. By providing technology-enabled, insights-driven energy technology solutions, we want to create a profound impact on our customers' businesses to better position them for sustainable growth in the long-term," concluded Alan.


About AECO Energy:

Based in Singapore, the AECO Pacific Group owns and operates the Power Choice and AECO Energy brands. A leading pioneer for more than 12 years in electricity brokerage and consulting services in Asia Pacific focusing on deregulated electricity markets, AECO Pacific helps businesses with electricity procurement and management backed by market intelligence. Transforming and saving businesses more, AECO's combined experience in energy leadership and innovative technology solutions remain unmatched in dynamic and changing energy markets. For more information, visit https://powerchoice.com.au/ and https://aecoenergy.sg/.

Four strategies for helping women in fragile settings succeed in the digital economy - Brand Spur
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