More than 30 female microbusiness owners benefited from a weekend of hands-on training in information communication technology as participants in a web entrepreneurship bootcamp (WEB). The camp was sponsored by The Way Out project - a programme being implemented by the Bureau of Women's Affairs (BWA) a department of the Office of the Prime Minister and the Dispute Resolution Foundation (DRF).
The sessions were held on Saturday, September 21 and Sunday, September 22 at the University of Technology (UTech) as part of the organisation's gender mainstreaming and women's empowerment initiative. This initiative has trained more than 190 pre-micro and microentrepreneurs across the island in order to help women in informal businesses develop competencies for expanding and formalising their economic activities. DRF implemented the bootcamp.
"WEB provided women with an opportunity to network while getting advice and training from industry experts, learning how to use the Internet to boost income, and increase their technology use in order to better manage and track business activities," explained BWA's executive director, Faith Webster.
Project manager for The Way Out initiative, Sharifa Wright, added that this event was "in alignment with the project's unwavering commitment to helping Jamaican women realise their full potential. We are so happy to have been able to offer this life-changing and empowering training to these microbusiness owners. This will help to not just bolster their businesses, but ultimately contribute to a sustained and thriving micro and small-business sector."
The Way Out project is funded through the Fund for Gender Equality of the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment aimed at supporting the National Policy for Gender Equality, which was approved by Cabinet on March 7, 2011.
The first day's sessions, which were held at UTech's School of Computing and Information Technology, were designed to introduce attendees to the basics of computer literacy, with morning and afternoon sessions focused on getting comfortable with productivity software such as Word and Excel as well as learning to use the Internet, emails, website/webpage and social media.
knowledge of computers
On day two, the participants learnt how to apply and maximise their newly acquired knowledge of computers and the Internet to create financial opportunities. The sessions held in the Faculty of Engineering, explored issues such as the bridge between tradition and virtual businesses, addressed common myths and fears associated with the Internet and helped the women develop the mindset of the web entrepreneur.
Like her fellow bootcamp participants, small business owner Francine Myrie found the sessions to be exactly what she had hoped for, and now feels more confident to use technology to help with daily operations.
"In this economic climate, I know it is important to be up to speed with technology because that's what's going to help make my business run more efficiently and help me to eventually expand. I am now ready to put all I've learnt into practice and I'm so appreciative for this opportunity."
The WEB event was actually an extension of an entrepreneurial development programme crafted by the BWA and DRF. Prior to the WEB, these women were trained and sensitised in various areas, including gender mainstreaming, business mediation, sexual harassment in the workplace, marketing products and services, developing business plans, budgeting and managing income and expenditure, responding to natural disasters and emergencies, among other areas.