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Real-Women Innovation Hub (UPDATED+FILE-ADDED)-27-may-2014

Real Women Innovation Hub is that platform that will create a clear path for women and girls to go from poverty to self-sufficiency to community leadership. Unlike training programs that prepare people for jobs they may not find, we will prepare women and girls to create jobs for themselves and for others. We will invest deeply in our Fellows, and we will keep working with them to realize a return on that investment – one that will pay dividends for the whole community.

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Provide a short description of your idea

Our idea is the Real Women Innovation Hub, a project that will promote new approach to entrepreneurial education and women employability in developing countries. The RWIH grows and catalyzes a portfolio of business ventures to empower low-income urban women in order to build commercially viable business solutions, drive growth in the small, medium and micro enterprise sector (SMME) and generate socio economic development at scale. Secondly, RWIH brings a new kind of job that can be done over the internet (microwork) into low income urban communities to empower women and girls. This kind of job can be done by women from the comfort of their homes or by simply visiting a cyber café around their communities. Through this they earn income to support themselves and families.

Get a user's perspective on your idea.

We were able to interview few prospective users in the low income urban area of Abeokuta South LGA, Nigeria..... and the conversation goes thus:....INTRO BY RWIH TEAM: Hello please can we have few minutes with you? We are from the Real Women Worldwide, a global advocacy organization bringing together solutions to improve the health and wellbeing of girls and women in low income urban areas of the developing world. In partnership with an organization based in the USA called OPENIDEO we are presently working to bring a new project into your community that would create jobs and employment for women and girls. Specifically, we want to help women be their own boss by empowering them with the tools needed to launch their own businesses. Secondly, we want to bring a new kind of job that can be done over the internet into your community. This kind of job you can do from the comfort of your home or by simply visiting a cyber café around your community. Through this you can earn some cool cash to support yourself and family. We would like to get your view on the incoming project and the impact you think it would make in your community. Do you really think such project would suit your community? As a person would you like to participate? ........................HERE ARE THE RESPONSES:........SHOLA, 27 years old, Diploma holder, Housewife, unemployed : “Wow this is the first time I would hear such thing from anyone because so many organizations are particularly focused on the city center. I would love to be my own boss and also employ other people. I have a dream to start a pure water factory business due to the problem of drinking water we have here but it is difficult because I don’t have money and the revolving loan we get is not enough to do such project. My husband is a carpenter so we have small money to manage with our 6 children. My eldest daughter is 21 years old and presently in a polytechnic we are using all we have to support her so that she can graduate and help us to take care of her younger ones too. I will like to be the first to participate in your program. I think my daughter will be happy to do your internet work too. I tried to get employment but it is difficult. For some companies out there you can spend several months working and not have an employment contract. They can fire you at any time. So your heart is not at it when you're working. This was my experience with my last employer. I would welcome any opportunity that will give me the chance to be my own boss and also support my family.” .............. ......Aisha, 35 years old, Trader. “For me I want to expand my business. I presently sale women shoes and cloths as you can see. If your program can help me expand then I will surely participate and I think women in my meeting will surely like it too. I also think this your internet work you explain will help our young girls who go after older men to sleep with them to make money. Just recently a lady close to my house was used for rituals and she’s a graduate. Her body was found in the bush with her breast and private gone. This is due to poverty and lack of employment. I think experience working will be good for the young who have skills but can’t find employment. With your project I think they can find another job.” ......... Bukola, 23 years old, Student. “This is opportunities that have been looking for. I attended an ICT conference few months ago and I had about this internet job opportunity. I checked out but can’t find a reliable source. I will be happy to participate in your program. I believe this can also help me improve my computer proficiency and I will be able to acquire many useful skills that I can use in my future career.”............ These and many more people we have interviewed and we can see from the interiew that there is a huge interest from our target audience to participate in the project. With access to knowledge, credit and collaborative networks and technologies, women and girls have opportunities to innovate in production chains, adding value to local goods and making their family more competitive in regional markets.

Show us what implementation might look like.

Real Women Innovation Hub Team will run a pilot program within 12 months period in the community of Abeokuta, South LGA Nigeria. This pilot will allow us to test the Enterprise accelerator and microwork outsourcing services to determine how to run the entire project sustainably so that it can be expanded to other communities in Nigeria, and beyond. To do this, we will need at least $45-50,000 within 12 months. With this, we will be able to create a pilot program to incubate 20 women owned enterprises and also train at least 50 women and girls in ICT skills to handle microwork and market themselves across our partner platforms such as (oDesk, Task, microworkers, microflower, samasource, Rabbit or Elance). This will include $15,000 for office space, organization registration with the authorities, office equipment's, furniture, 30 low-cost desktop computers at ($63 dollars each), program materials, awareness events, registration and training; Investment of $25,000 on 20 women owned enterprises and this will be in addition to angel investors investment in each businesses within 12 month pilot, and $5000 for the provision of affordable technology for our microworkers using Ubislate tablets, which cost less than 100 USD to purchase. Please see attached timeline for more details.

The Solution
Our solution is the Real Women Innovation Hub......

Vision
Women and Girls empowered to be agents of economic development in slums.
 
Mission
To partner with at-risk women and girls (unemployed or underemployed) in underdeveloped and impoverished urban areas to launch community businesses capable of creating ten or more decent, sustainable jobs for their peers.
 
Services 
The “RWIH” will bring two basic services into the low income urban community:  
Service 1. Enterprise incubator/Accelerator: within the first six months of the project life, RWIH team will establish a vocational training platform and a Start-Up business accelerator for young women that will draw upon a rich pipeline of entrepreneurial ideas emerging from low income women communities and among young women in higher institutions in Nigeria, and will leverage access to a network of contacts, space and broadband into fast-paced prototyping and business development. RWIH will mobilize internal and external networks to seed and fund businesses emerging from the platform. Ultimately, the RWIH model will get women entrepreneurs from ideas to funding literally in 3-6 months!  
Overall, the RWIH will support women entrepreneur in building adapted business models for the Base of the Pyramid, access a screened pipeline of franchisees and manage the network for them, allowing feedback and best practices to be identified and implemented.   
The RWIH will work closely with franchisees as well: provide them with a portfolio of proven franchise business models, and through strong partnership with our sister organization Passion Incubator (http://www.passionincubator.ng/)  we will train and mentor them for 2 years, create a strong support ecosystem around them by sourcing strategic partners and adding services that they often do not have access to at the micro level: access to premises, finance, technology (mobile bookkeeping, mobile banking, etc.) or others. An integral part of our project will be the creation, for example, and use of simple electronic tools to support the entrepreneur & franchisor, such as mobile accounting & stock management software.   
  
Service 2. RWIH Micro Work Outsourcing: Billions of people, particularly women, lack access to dignified work. In a world flattened by technology, this needn’t be the case. Due to rising literacy levels (at 84% globally) and the spread of low-cost computing, Internet access and mobile devices across the developing world, these people can be tapped as a powerful labor force. Digital services represent a new type of work that allows semi-skilled but un- or underemployed workers to earn money by comprising a vital part of virtual assembly lines. You don’t need roads, or telephone lines, or brick and mortar to build this generation’s factories. All you need is a brain and a cheap laptop connected to the Internet. The primary input of this new digital work is human intelligence, which we now have in abundance. This will create a rapid transformation in the types of people that can do digital work. The digital assembly lines of today allow people with basic training to plug their skills into much larger work streams that engage hundreds of people on many continents. Within the first 12 months of the project life, RWIH in partnership with technology organizations will use a unique combination of sales team, local training, and web-based tools to extend these jobs to marginalized women, and girls. This service will bring technology skills training and paying digital work to poor women in Nigeria and around West Africa. We will achieve this by connecting women living off less than $2 a day to microwork: small, digital tasks taken from a larger project that can be performed using the Internet. Leveraging on the power of the rural internet and mobile broadband connectivity, the hub will provide a 10 weeks ICT skills training in the online and offline domain in order for our target audience to be able to handle microwork outsourced from Technology Company from across the world. Our 10 week training: will prepare participants to market themselves on online marketplaces such as oDesk, Task, microworkers, microflower, samasource, Rabbit or Elance. This will enable women to gain skills, earn a living wage and break the cycle of poverty for themselves and their families. Though access to internet is seen as a major barrier in the low income communities and women are mostly affected. To reduce this problem, we will setup digital work centers across our demography starting within the RWIH facilities which will be equipped with solar panels on the roof and will feature low‐cost computers and Internet access, and a free work platform. We will use cutting-edge education technology, hands-on coaching, work-based learning and strong partnerships to ensure that our students are successful. Those students that successfully complete the program will be awarded netbooks to ensure they have the tools and access to thrive in the digital work marketplace. 

Why we focus on providing these two services:
1. Firstly, some of our target population are presently in school such as the young women who presently attend the university and can’t possibly run a venture due to their school program. But still they need a source of income to support them in school.
2. Secondly, everyone cannot be admitted at once into the incubator/accelerator space. We can only admit a minimum number of people and viable business idea at a point in time.
 So we thought what will the rest of the people do? How can we keep them engaged by doing something important with their time? That brought about the microwork outsourcing service to provide acceptable “Microjob” to women who are otherwise earning less than 2 dollars a day with jobs destroying their dignity (like getting a dollar a day to protest for a politician… slave like conditions). By giving work and so income, we wish to give opportunity and dignity to poor people.
Nevertheless, we will be taking one step at a time during the implementation first. The Enterprize Acelerator will run from the first year of  the project life, while the outsourcing service will be introduced in the secondly year in order for us to plan and avoid mistakes in our implementation processes.
    
Why our idea is different:  
Job creation being a core objective in Nigeria, there are a lot of entrepreneurship programs and support available in the country. At the same time, franchise consulting and associations exist but not at the micro level yet and we feel that the micro level comes with its own specific challenges and requirements. With the RWIH we are the only ones to not only focus on developing and growing micro franchise solutions, but also to complement our entrepreneurial program range for women, and finally mentor our entrepreneurs and franchisees for 2 years.  
Real-Women Innovation Hub wants to create a clear path for women and girls to go from poverty to self-sufficiency to community leadership. Unlike training programs that prepare women for jobs they may not find, we prepare women to create jobs for themselves and for others. Unlike traditional microfinance programs that focus on providing loans for anything from working capital to school fees and wedding expenses, we will focus our loans on building strong, growth-oriented businesses that are coached and vetted by experienced local business leaders and our team of social venture capitalists looking for maximum social and financial returns.  
We will invest deeply in each class of Fellows, and we will keep working with them to realize a return on that investment – one that pays dividends for the whole community.  
We want to redesign tools for entrepreneurs in order to make them accessible to women with small businesses in Nigeria and West Africa. Our findings has shown that the tools that is currently available is hard to comprehend and not very practical for these women. We will make crowdsourcing, support groups and mentors reachable and a resource to promote the co-creation of new solutions.  
Our projected impact in three years is to have impacted 1000 women entrepreneurs, and adding at least 50 great companies to our portfolio of businesses in the course of doing business, generating 1,000 high paying jobs in the process and creating direct wealth and ownership for up to 150 people. 

How the Service will Develop Over Time:
  Phase 1 (first year) – Phase 1 is seen as a pilot program and will be divided into 1st and 2nd six months. The first six month will be targeted at putting all resource needed for our pilots together and in the same period we will concentrate on testing our model and assumptions of developing  women owned enterprises with atleast 10-15 women with viable entreprenurial ideas within the low income urban center. The lesson learned during this period will be documented and will be used to forge our path ahead of the secondly six month. 
 During the secondly six months, we will build on the lesson learned in the first quater and we will also feature another 10-15 women with viable business idea for another six month. In addition to this, we will also test our microwork outsourcing model during this second period with atleast 30-50 women and girls to see how this two services can work simutaneously  and we will run this program in the  low income urban Communities of Abeokuta South Local Government area of Ogun state Nigeria as our pilot point.
 
However, the main objective will be to develop an effective, pro-active accelerator/incubation service which meets the need of women and girls. Crucial in this will be the continued development of the Real Women Innovation Hub Network, the strengthening of the resources within the Hub and Spokes and the development of the use of ICT.
 A major aim within the first year will be to ensure that the Hub moves to the next stage in the incubation/acceleration ladder and establishes a Business Incubation/accelerator facility with a focus on women owned social enterprise. The Network will look to access a number of funding strands in support of education and learning, particularly based on new technologies, and the development of enterprise, including social enterprise. Activity to include:
- Use of Business Incubation Fund money to access Convergence Funding to increase incubation activity and resources
- Investigation into the potential for Communities Training Budgets and the Communities Trust Fund to support incubation activities
- Increasing links with the local providers of education and training such as EduTrust, the University of Abeokuta, local schools and Passion Incubator Training in support of the development of entrepreneurial training programmes for women and girls
- Application to the Ogun Regeneration Trust to establish a Social Enterprise Business Incubation Service for women and girls
- Application to Communities@Abk to link the use of ICT to the development of social enterprise for women and girls
- Building of links with Creative Communities project
- Building of links with Local Service Board in support of incubation activities
- Investigation of international programme to identify areas of support for women and girls in Nigeria
- Identification of, and support for the development of, building assets to provide space for new business activities for women and girls
- Investigation of income generation opportunities in support of sustainability
- Investigate extension to the membership of the Network, to include developing social enterprises and private sector business and to investigate the potential for a membership fee to support facilities
 
Phase 2 (year 2) - Phase 2 will build on the experience of Phase 1 by extending the incubation service to all remaining interested partnerships. It is anticipated that some RWIH Partnerships will have ambitions to establish business incubation facilities and they will be supported in this development.
-Introduction of the microwork outsourcing service into the community fully for women and girls.
Phase 3 (years 3 - 5) – A move from pilot to mainstream activity with a focus on establishing a sustainable business incubation service across Nigeria, and other West Africa countries offering all four stages of business incubation which meets the needs of all network members.
-development of the microwork outsourcing service to full scale, partnering with international organizations such as IBM, Google, Facebook, Microflower, Samasource etc.
 The above outlines the development of the service within RWIH but it is crucial that links are forged with other local authorities undertaking similar developments. 

SWOT ANALYSIS
Strength
-Strong Real Women Innovation Network
-Commitment and passion – the team has a 13 + year old track record supporting learning and pathways into work; CF Partnerships 3 year track record
-Social Enterprise Incubator is in both Ogun Incubation strategy and Abeokuta Economic Regeneration Strategy
-Strong ‘buy in’ to develop the project
-Partnership with Ogun Enterprise Agency
-Partnership with Innovation Centre, Lagos - a strong source of best practice, mentoring, training and access to University and International networks
-Ability to deliver accredited training
- IT expertise
-Hot desking space – in both Hub & spokes
-Member of Business Incubation Association
-Member of the Lagos Incubation Practioners Group
-Member of Social Enterprise Development Partnership Fund Advisory Group
 
Weakness
-Limited experience providing business support services
-Current weak asset base

Opportunity
-Key RWIH Partnerships have identified social enterprise development as key strands of their action plans and many have firm projects needing immediate intensive support
-Opportunities to up skill existing RWIH staff (in partnership with Innovation Centre, Lagos & Ogun Enterprise Agency through best practice knowledge transfer, mentoring and training
-RWIH recognizes that Social Enterprise business model with growth potential have a role to play in disadvantaged communities - and in future growth sectors of the economy (esp. construction/maintenance)
-Opportunities to purchase existing premises in Abeokuta
 
  Threat
-Potential lack of cooperation from business support agencies – especially those tasked with supporting social enterprise
-Fragmented funding environment
-Current short term uncertainty over the roll out of Convergence funding
 
RISKS
RWIH greatest barrier to success is government interference and inadequate space/funding. We believe the first will be overcome by our team by ensuring we keep government agencies abreast of the social benefits of the sector, and creating an environment of trust with policy makers. The later issue is an execution concern, since we believe we provide a market for both entrepreneurs and investors that seek them; and creating the platform will be profitable in the long term as global investors are increasingly interested in Africa based start-ups. Our space (infrastructure) barrier can however be overcome by the help of our friends and well wishers; organizations like OPENIDEO that want to partner with us for change!
 
Delays- Any project looking to develop a mixed funding base will experience challenges faced by different funders working to different timetables and able to make decisions at different speeds. These delays can cause drift and are one of the biggest sources of frustration.
 The approach that will be adopted here is target early funders to come on board. Early supporters have been identified to fund early/launch phase and use this commitment to give confidence to other funders to back later phase
 

Explain your idea in one sentence.

Real-Women Innovation Hub is a platform that will allow low-income women to have access to practical and comprehensive tools that will guide them through the process of starting or growing an Enterprise.

What is the need you are trying to solve?

In August 2010, the International Labor Organization warned of a "lost generation" of young women left out of the global economy and facing reduced life opportunities. They include over 80 million unemployed women, and over 250 million women in the ranks of the "working poor" – eking out uncertain and unsustainable livelihoods in the informal market, on the margins of society. Real-Women Innovation Hub is committed to helping the "Lost Generation" find its way. "Street women and girls" are homeless, unemployed, and underemployed women eking out livelihoods in the shadows of "slum cities" around the world. They are the products of three game-changing global phenomena: 1. Population Explosion: According to the World Bank, we are in the midst of the largest women cohort in human history. The population explosion is concentrated in the developing world, prompting governments to speak alternately of a "demographic dividend" and a “ticking time bomb." 2. Urbanization: Today, half the world’s population lives in cities. Every week 1.3 M more people flood into urban centers. This is the largest migration in the history of humanity, and it’s rapidly accelerating. Most migrants end up in slums. Slum-dwellers already make up 1/6 of humanity. By 2050, two billion more will join their ranks, most of them women. 3. Women Unemployment: Even before the Great Recession, the ILO estimated that developing countries needed to create 1 billion jobs over the next decade just to keep up with first-time job seekers. Women now make up 30% of unemployed people on the planet. The stakes are high: halving women unemployment in sub-Saharan Africa could increase GDP by 12-19%. The “lost generation” is an economic, social justice, and international security issue. Street women and girls cost their countries billions in lost potential, are vulnerable to exploitation, and tend to be targets for recruitment by criminal groups, from local gangs to terrorist cells.

Who will benefit from this idea and how would you monitor its success?

Beneficiaries – Will include: 1. Direct beneficiaries – women and girls in Nigeria, West Africa and other developing countries with a focus on those disadvantaged and economically inactive in low income urban communities. 2. Indirect beneficiaries - Those receiving new and enhanced services provided by emerging new and growing enterprises in sectors as diverse as creative industries: micro/macro enterprise, leisure, tourism and heritage: environment: health and social care. 3. Location – The incubator/accelerator service will be piloted in Abeokuta South Local Government area of Ogun State, Nigeria. This learning will be used to explore opportunities to replicate the service in other regions across other developing countries. However, the Real Women Innovation Hub is a new and innovative approach to supporting business development within low income urban communities in Nigeria. This project plan is focused on the activities which will be undertaken over the first 18 months while the service is developed. Every attempt will be made to ensure that the expertise existing within the network is maximized to deliver an effective service. External links will be forged with relevant organizations with the aim of replicating good practice. Additionally a Monitoring and Evaluation Framework will be developed to ensure that every opportunity is taken capture both success and failure and to reflect on both with a view to improving the service. The Framework will be developed by the network in the early stages of the project but will include as a minimum the following; Pre-Implementation Stage - Clear project objectives - Confirmation of outcomes / results / impacts (SMART) - Identification of Performance Indicators - Clear Timetable for implementation - Detail costs of planned inputs - Analysis of existing response to the challenge of business development - Analysis of business development activities in comparable areas Implementation Stage - Monitor Progress -Monitor inputs -Monitor outputs -Monitor key milestones -Investigate any other core tracking data that does not relate to the above but may be useful -Allow the monitoring to influence implementation Post-Implementation – Evaluation - Compare outcome data with the baseline - Calculate the cost effectiveness of the project - Calculate the costs of the project, including any inputs monitored during the project - Compare the cost of the project with the cost of previous responses to the problem and estimate any savings - Examine comparable areas - Examine trends in the wider area and any similar comparison area to asses’ impact At this stage it is expected that all monitoring and evaluation will be undertaken through the use of expertise existing within the Incubation Network.

Who would be best equipped to implement this idea in the real world? You? Your organisation? Another organisation or entity?

The Real-Women team represents people from all walks of life. A significant number of our team members once were in low socioeconomic neighborhoods or have otherwise experienced what it is like to be an underprivileged individual. These team members are crucial to our effort to adapt our services to best benefit our target demographic, as they can tell us what the statistics is; they can describe to us firsthand the problems disadvantaged girls have and the solutions they wish they had and that we can now give. Perhaps the one thing all the Real-Women team members have in common is leadership skill. Most of our current Real-Woman team was selected because we had significant leadership experience. We are versatile– anyone on the project team has the ability to work alone, a project follower, or a project leader. Most importantly, we take initiative.

Where should this idea be implemented?

This idea will be directed towards developing countries. There is mounting global evidence about interventions that improve women condition, but one important gap that has yet to be filled is a deeper understanding of “implementation research,” with specific consideration of how to deliver these interventions quickly, affordably, and in a way that makes women more likely to seek more empowering opportunities. RWIH team’s commitment to continuous improvement will equip us well for implementation research, and we will be partnering with top academic institutions such as the Covenant University to measure our impact in a scientifically rigorous way. We think that impact begins with knowing our clients. With this in mind, we will use outreach strategies in low-income communities across Abeokuta South Local Government area to learn about the empowerment-seeking behavior of our clients. Interviews, focus groups, and follow-up surveys will tell us which service clients’ value, how much they’re willing to be part of our network. With this information, we can cater the service we provide to meet their needs in the long run. We believe that our greatest opportunity for social change comes from ruthlessly measuring our outcomes and operations, documenting how we reached them and disseminating findings so that private and public providers can replicate what we learn. Collecting metrics such as liveihood outcomes, and utilization, will not only help us improve, but also will allow us to share best practices with the broader OpenIdeo community. Tracking our experimentation with new technology such as mobile phones and an online client database will improve our ability to collect client information, document impact and outcomes, and get real-time feedback on our services.

How might you prototype this idea and test some of the assumptions behind it?

Phase 1 (first year) – Phase 1 is seen as a pilot program and will be divided into 1st and 2nd six months. The first six month will be targeted at putting all resource needed for our pilots together and in the same period we will concentrate on testing our model and assumptions of developing women owned enterprises with at least 10-15 women with viable entrepreneurial ideas within the low income urban center. The lesson learned during this period will be documented and will be used to forge our path ahead of the secondly six months. During the secondly six months, we will build on the lesson learned in the first quarter and we will also feature another 10-15 women with viable business idea for another six month. In addition to this, we will also test our microwork outsourcing model during this second period with at least 30-50 women and girls to see how this two services can work simultaneously and we will run this program in the low income urban Communities of Abeokuta South Local Government area of Ogun state Nigeria as our pilot point. Phase 2 (year 2) - Phase 2 will build on the experience of Phase 1 by extending the incubation service to all remaining interested partnerships. It is anticipated that some RWIH Partnerships will have ambitions to establish business incubation facilities and they will be supported in this development. -Introduction of the microwork outsourcing service into the community fully for women and girls. Phase 3 (years 3 - 5) – A move from pilot to mainstream activity with a focus on establishing a sustainable business incubation service across Nigeria, and other West Africa countries offering all four stages of business incubation which meets the needs of all network members. -development of the microwork outsourcing service to full scale, partnering with international organizations such as IBM, Google, Facebook, Microflower, Samasource etc. The above outlines the development of the service within RWIH but it is crucial that links are forged with other local authorities undertaking similar developments. With this in mind, we will reach women through local NGO's and other organizations in different countries in West Africa. Our first pilot in Nigeria via the Youth Innovation Hub Project proved that the interest of women is huge, over 200 women signed up for our first pilot within few days. We will make affordable technology available to those who need it by using tablets. We will also work with governments in Nigeria and other West African countries to make this idea viable in the long term.

What might a day in the life of a community member interacting with your idea look like?

The incubation/accelerator service is a pro-active provision that will consist of a cocktail of support activities, including training and education and business support, offered by network members which will link the development of social enterprise to regeneration programmes. With access to knowledge, funding and collaborative networks and technologies, women entrepreneurs will have opportunities to innovate in their local community, adding value to local goods and making family business more competitive in regional markets. They will be able to implement small industries in their communities, using wisely and efficiently the natural resources, managing environmental challenges and processing raw materials and primary products that are already made by their families (for instance, to process cassava, providing high quality flour to markets). They can also organize marketing arrangements to sell their products with more competitive and fair prices, without middlemen. Women and girls will be empowered to take part in local governance, participating in the decision-making process in their communities, associations and in regional forums, where strategic agendas and public policies are built. Those outcomes will impact women, raising their incomes. And will create conditions so women and girls will build future perspectives, staying in their communities and contributing to their development.

Evaluation results

6 evaluations so far

1. Does this idea have the potential to impact the lives of low-income women and girls living in urban areas?

Yes, the idea clearly targets low-income women and girls living in urban areas. - 83.3%

The idea targets women and girls but isn’t necessarily focused on those living in low-income urban areas. - 16.7%

The idea targets people living in low-income urban areas but doesn’t seem to benefit women and girls specifically. - 0%

2. Does this idea describe a set of next steps and a timeline to accomplish them?

The idea clearly outlines next steps, the resources and team needed to execute them and a timeline to accomplish this. - 83.3%

The idea gives a broad explanation of what it hopes to accomplish but there is no clear timeline or activities to reach its desired goal. - 16.7%

The idea has not clearly articulated what the next steps are. - 0%

3. How feasible would it be to implement a pilot of this idea in the next 12-18 months?

Very feasible – the next steps described in the contribution seem achievable in this time period. - 83.3%

A pilot appears feasible but more work needs to be done to figure out how it would be executed. - 16.7%

The idea is not ready to be piloted yet – the concept needs several more months of user feedback and prototyping to be ready for a pilot. - 0%

4. Does this idea bring a new and fresh approach to the city or region in which it’s set?

Yes, this idea appears to be new and innovative! I’m not aware of other ideas in this city or region that address this need using a similar approach. - 66.7%

There are other initiatives doing similar work in this area – but this idea targets a new group or has an updated approach. - 33.3%

I can think of many initiatives addressing the same need using a similar approach in the same region. - 0%

5. How scalable is this idea across regions and cultures?

This is an idea that could help women and girls in many different cities. I can see it being implemented across multiple regions and cultures. - 100%

Maybe but I’d imagine it would need very significant changes. - 0%

The idea is really only suited for one specific region / population. - 0%

6. Overall, how do you feel about this concept?

I love this idea! - 83.3%

I liked it but preferred others. - 16.7%

It didn't get me so excited. - 0%

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Hi Michael,

Thank you for sharing so many details of your plan! I read about your pilot youth innovation program below. It sounds as though it went really well congratulations! Are you able to share what lessons you learned from that pilot that you have incorporated into the Real Women plan?

Did you fund the youth pilot solely through VC funding? Do you have a sense of the level of VC interest in projects like these?

Looking forward to learning more about this!

Chioma

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Hi chioma,
Thank you for your comment. First of all, what we learned during the YIH pilot program serve as a stepping stone for us in this challenge. In January 2013, a new conversation around investing in youth especially women began between Almonsour Women Foundation, a nonprofit financial institution that raises debt capital from retail investors to lend to communities in need, and our organization Rainbow Gate Foundation Nigeria. Investing in youth especially women was a concept that both organizations had been exploring for a while, but neither of us had a clear understanding of how to turn theory into action. Once we began the dialogue it didn’t take long to create a solution: (Youth Innovation Hub Project) in partnership with our sister organization Passion Incubator. Almonsour Women Foundation provided us with seed capital and support to launch a pilot initiative. The goals of the initiative were to raise capital from investors interested in fostering youth’s economic empowerment and deploy within the local communities to foster youth employability. We carried out the pilot successfully and learned many lessons along the way. Some of the lessons we learned include:
Lesson #1: There is power in an investment:
Building off the success of the responsible investment movement, impact investing is perfectly positioned to create deeper engagement between an individual’s values and her investment portfolio. In the same way that purchasing decisions – the car you drive, the clothes you wear – suggest a certain set of values, an investment product can represent your values and the impact you want to have on the world.
The Youth Innovation Hub Project serves as a tool for investors to express their values through their investable assets and provides a direct connection between capital providers (investors) and capital receivers (organizations or communities) that are otherwise largely disconnected. It taught us that there is investor appetite for investments that connect them to the people, places and issues they care deeply about.
Lesson #2: There was latent demand that was waiting to be activated:
This initiative seems to have been one of the first stones thrown in a deep pond. It wasn’t until we put the product out into the marketplace – with admittedly limited marketing efforts – that we realized how hungry the industry was for such commitments.
Since YIH launched, other organizations have recognized this demand and have created their own YOUTH-focused investments and initiatives. This, to us, is one of the most important byproducts of this work.
Lesson #3: Gender has the ability to knock down verticals:
YIH showed us the ability of gender to cut across more traditional impact sectors (education, health, environment, etc.) to inspire investors and businesses to bring more intentionality to their work with and for women.
One example of this evolution exists in our current portfolio. A couple of months ago a borrower, a manufacturer of clean cookstoves, did not consider themselves a “gender-focused” investment. In fact, when we first approached them, they decided that they did not want to be a part of our YIH portfolio because of the additional gender metrics we asked them to collect (they opted to be in our standard portfolio instead). Many conversations later, they realized that while they had always identified as an organization that promotes clean energy and healthy living, their target market – and target beneficiary – was young to middle-aged women. They have since created Women’s Empowerment Training that is training women to become entrepreneurs and spokeswomen, essentially the salesforce for their products.
Gender is certainly not the only demographic with this cross-cutting ability; other identities like age, ethnicity or location can have a similar ability to unite, empower and connect.
Lesson #4: Portfolio creation should be inclusive and aspirational:
We made a decision together at the beginning of the initiative that we were going to create inclusive screens for our YIH portfolio. We did this mainly because we found a lack of disaggregated gender data in many of our sectors, which made it hard to create initial benchmarks. What we didn’t realize was that this inclusive screen would help us create a more diverse portfolio during this pilot phase that allowed us to conduct a broad scan of the activity targeted toward women’s empowerment.
These lessons have become embedded in how we think about our strategy and our role in the broader impact investing field. We are certainly not finished learning and we would love to hear from others doing this work if these lessons resonate with them.

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Great response! You have clearly put a lot of hard work and thought into this project. Thank you for taking the time to share all of these lessons with us. I love what you learned about latent demand and the cross-cutting power of gender issues - it's great that your work is able to help people uncover these connections - and act on them!

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MANY THANKS CHIOMA FOR YOUR CONTRIBUTION

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Loving your freshly uploaded idea visualisation, Michael! And we're excited about further Refinement updates as you pull various aspects together. I'm especially interested in the response to the new "Get a user's perspective on your idea" question in the submission form. Looking forward to hearing more on that in good time...

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Many thanks Meena for your kind word. working on that aspect of the question. updates will be available soon.

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Michael,
Great job at describing the funding model and need to focus on women. It would be great to learn more specifically how this idea impact low income women.
Do you have a specific community, neighborhood in mind?
What are the type of entrepreneurial start ups women in this community are already pioneering?
What are the type of businesses that women in this community could thrive with?
Tip: Interview women in the community/neighborhood you are targeting to work with and ask them about their ideas for businesses. What are the skills and resources they need?
Are you investors interested in this type of business?

We look forward to seeing this idea develop further and understanding how it's targeting low-income women specifically?

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Michael,
Please excuse my lack of attention to detail. I didn't realized when I posted the comment above that you had submitted the implementation timeline, the prospective's user perspective and the experience map. Great work. This allows our community to get a clear understanding of the steps moving forward and the type of users you are targeting.

As you keep on refining your idea it might be helpful to think about the following if you are interested in the funding and design support offered by the Amplify program:
The Amplify team is looking to fund pilots that can be run in 14-18 months. They also have up to $500,000 USD to distribute amongst a subset of ideas. Could you imagine this scale of investment enabling you to make significant progress in the next 14-18 months? If so what will success look like after 14-18 months?

Some thoughts:
At OpenIDEO we believe in the power of trying out small scale experiments before going big. This way we can learn from the process and make more informed decisions once we scale our ideas.
You implementation timeline outlines a 12 month process. And I really like how you incorporate learning and the ability to change activities base don’t his learning. Are there experiments you can run before opening up the doors to learn what are the best way to do outreach and motivate students to keep engaged?

For example, learn through interviews what does your target population use to get informed about similar opportunities.

Share the curriculum with people who have run similar programs and get feedback.

It might be helpful to think if you could try out the enterprise accelerator and the Micro Work Outsourcing program separately. Do you think they need to be implemented at the same time? Which one would you like to try out first?

Great work so far, we look forward to seeing this idea develop further.

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Many thanks Luisa. We have restructured our timeline kindly have a look. we will be focusing first on the business accelerator for the first 6 months while the outsourcing service will be introduced in the second 6 months of the pilot phase. We believe this will help us greatly in achieving our goals.
However, for the first year, we will be targeting low income urban areas of south-western Nigeria with ABEOKUTA SLUMS serving as our pilot point. Here we will run 2 pilot rounds, with at least 50 women for each of the rounds. For each round, we will work with the best 10 ideas which will pass through our incubation process. In addition to this, we will also organize community forums to bring together women with already establish enterprise but still in need mentor-ship to effective make their businesses break-even. Here we will run Practical training on leadership, self-awareness, personal development, business and entrepreneurship to strengthen their capacity in the process of doing business. In the second year; we will scale our impact to the national level, by establishing more branches in other regions of the country.
Overall this is what success will look like:
1.Provide incubation support to a minimum of 10-20 potential enterprises in the first 1 year, of which at least 50% will be defined as social enterprise – rising to 30 in year 2 with again at least 50% defined as social enterprise
2. Increase their chance of success- Achieving a 40% success rate in terms of company registration
3. Creating at least 100 volunteering and training opportunities will be created targeted at the economically inactive – rising to over 200 in year two
4. Establish businesses that deliver new services in the local economy that improve well being – reaching over 1,000 local residents over the two years
5. Skilling the new businesses to embed the use of quality models to demonstrate impact in achieving social, environmental, technological & economic outputs

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Interesting insights, Michael. Would be great if you can fill out the two additional sections in the submission form: Show Us What Implementation Might Look Like + Get a User's Perspective on Your Idea. We're sure you've got further insights to share for both sections, ahead of our Evaluation phase which starts in a couple of days.

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Thank you so much Meena. I have those on the attached files already but will fill it in right away.

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DeletedUser

Wow Michael. This idea sounds amazing! helping women in developing countries to have skills to earn money! as you mentioned that "RWIH will form a partnership with technology organisations".. I recommend you to form partnership with IBM! IBM operates "cloud academy project" to better educate people globally for a smarter planet.. And i think through cloud computing, these women can be educated from famous teachers around the world and will definitely gain skills to operate their business successfully!

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Thank you so much JL for the insight. our core objective is to partner with all relevant tech organizations to make this work. In the coming year we will work towards strengthening this partnerships

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Hi Michael, awesome idea! I'm wondering if you're familiar with SamaSource? (http://samasource.org/) Their work is similar to your micro-work model. You have clearly done the background research and I'm hoping you will also publish your findings on your website.

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Many thanks Rachael. I am very familiar with Samasource, Once met with the Founder Leilah at TEDx Conference where i was inspired by her great talk. This kind of model isn't available in West Africa . so have been working in the last 1.5 years to bring the model into my community. We have tried a pilot and it worked perfectly well. we feel this is an opportunity to do more and as we progress, we will be sharing all of our findings with the general public.

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Congratulations Michael for making it to the refining phase! Best of luck refining it.

I am also working on my idea and hope to hear from you or your team on the blog.
By the way, as I am trying to refine my idea I was wondering how we can facilitate participation to the platform.
Will another type of platform make it easier to participate? in other words, is a blog not the best platform? Or is more an issue related to access to the internet?
Do you have suggestions on better media that could support a dialogue? Some people suggested a radio station. Will that make sense?

Thank you!

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Team

Hi Melchior,
So sorry didn't hear from me in a long time . Just came back from Sri Lanka. Attended World Conference on Youth. I think we should focus on building a platform that will be much more interactive. You can view the model i describe in our sanitary pad project. Let me know how i can come in.

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Hi Michael,
thanks for the reply. I hope the conference went well.
I agree with you that in the future, I will need to develop a more flexible and interactive platform. I'm thinking of starting a club in the fall at my school to work with other students on this. I will check your idea to see what you described.
The blog was an easy and quick way to prototype the idea and see if I could get some interest and participation. I got a Youth club in Kathmandu, Nepal to post: http://theirproblemisours.blogspot.com/2014/05/educating-youths-regarding-their-sexual.html

It'd be great to have more participation. This is where I will need your help during this refinement phase. I created an account for you and I would love for you or someone from your team to post some content. I sent you an email yesterday with a few questions that you could ask to one or more students you are working with. If it's easier I can also send you a set of questions for you or someone from your team. It's only 4-5 questions (2-3 sentences each).

By interactive, what do you mean? On the blog, once you have an authorship you can post content and anyone can comment. Is it about also posting using a phone, rather than only a computer?

Thanks!

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Hi Melchior, cant find the mail you sent me. can you resend it? including the account login detail.. many thanks

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I've just re-invited you on your gmail. However, you already accepted it, so if you go to the blog, http://theirproblemisours.blogspot.com/, and you sign in with your gmail account, you should be able to post.

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Team

Michael, tell me if you have any problem accessing the blog.
Here are 2 examples of what I have in mind in terms of your participation to the blog (apart from commenting of course):

http://theirproblemisours.blogspot.com/2014/05/interview-with-pushpa-joshi-from.html

http://theirproblemisours.blogspot.com/2014/05/educating-youths-regarding-their-sexual.html

Thanks!

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Thanks Michael for your post on the blog! :-)

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Michael, I just wanted to let you know that I added you as a contributor to the blog: http://theirproblemisours.blogspot.com/p/contributors.html

If you have time to interview (or have someone in your team) interview one of the young people involved in your program, that'd be great. I think this would be amazing insights.

Thanks again for your support and collaboration and best of luck with your idea.

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Congratulations on making it to the Women's Safety Challenge Refinement list, Michael! We really liked how your idea seeks to use the accelerator model to support women’s economic empowerment and how you draw from your experience to inform this initiative. As you get involved in refinement, think of the skill set and access to different types of technology available to your target users. Based on your entry it seems like you have conducted a pilot. How long did it run for? How many women were part of it? What were the activities it involved? What level of education and income did the participants have? What did you learn from them throughout the process? During the Research phase we learned that low-income women and girls have limited or no access to the Internet. You describe the Innovation Hub as an online and offline platform. What components are online and what components are offline? How will women and girls with limited or no access to the Internet access the online platform? You describe two initiatives as part of your idea: the Micro Work Outsourcing and the Enterprise accelerator. Did you pilot both components? Do you think both initiatives go hand in hand? Do you feel you could first focus on one? You also described that “ we will train and mentor [women] for two years. Who is part of this team? You also describe that the initiative will take advantage of “our partner organisation’s premises, staff and equipment” Is this partnership already establish? Who is your partner and what is their long-term role within the initiative? It seems like a big part of your outreach occurs at universities, what percentage of low-income women living in urban areas in Nigeria have access to universities? Have you started to reach out to specific universities? What specific needs do you have for a second pilot? What is its timeline? What does success look like at the end of a second pilot? Give some thought to these questions and keep us up to date with the answers. Let us know what you learn from interviewing women and girls who participated in your first pilot. For more tips for this Refinement phase, check out http://ideo.pn/ws-refine-tips and catch our Tools for Refinement at http://openideo.com/content/tools-for-the-womens-safety-challenge-refinement-phase.

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First of all our team is so excited to have been chosen to move to the next round. The Women Innovation Hub mission is to empower women Through Enterprise Development and Micro Task Outsourcing so that they can become financially and socially Independent. This solution is in response to the growing problem of unemployment amongst women and the lack of support that they receive from the father of their children. Billions of people, particularly women, lack access to dignified work. In a world flattened by technology, this needn’t be the case. Due to rising literacy levels (at 84% globally) and the spread of low-cost computing and mobile devices across the developing world, these people can be tapped as a powerful labor force. Incubating women owned macro and micro enterprise by giving them tools to launch their own business will sure make the world safer for women. Microwork outsourcing services also represent a new type of work that allows semi-skilled but un- or underemployed workers to earn money by comprising a vital part of virtual assembly lines. These underlie commonly outsourced business process and IT services such as transcription, captioning, and data entry; as well as “crowdsourced” services such as task completion. Together, such services comprise a $200B global industry growing at 20% a year.

In 2013, in partnership with our sister organization “Passion Incubator” and “Rainbow Gate Foundation” we started a project called “Youth Innovation Hub Project” which uses scalable technologies, support groups and role models to help youth especially women around Nigeria become successful entrepreneurs and impact their communities. This program was design to empower youths of university age both male and female. Within six months Youthnnovation Hub supported over 220 youth entrepreneurs (120 male and 100 females) in various forms through our YouthnnoConsulting, Youthnnovation Platform, YouthnnoSpace and Youthnnovation Camp programs and we successfully launched 5 businesses that now employ at least 5-10 people by just taking 3-5% equity. Furthermore, we also help youth to have access to microwork that allows them to also earn online by training them in online ICT skills and introducing them to platforms such as odesk, microworkers.com, samasource etc. within the first six month over a thousand youth connected with all of these platforms and have stated earning online. This was made easy due to rural internet connectivity and android mobile phones that have become increasingly popular in Nigeria.
For the project, we focused on the two services for the pilot because we believe everyone cannot be admitted at once into the incubator/accelerator space should we focus on that alone. Secondly, we can only admit a minimum number of people at a point in time. So we think what will the rest of the people do? How can we keep them engaged by doing something important with their time? That brought about the microwork outsourcing service to provide acceptable “Microjob” to people who are otherwise earning less than 2 dollars a day with jobs destroying their dignity (like getting a dollar a day to protest for a politician… slave like conditions). By giving work and so income, we wish to give opportunity and dignity to poor people.

with the OpenIdeo Challenge for women safety, the experience with Youth Innovation Hub in the last one year serve as an inspiration for us to bring a new perspective to help low-income urban women break out of poverty.
Though combining these two services together seems challenging from the outermost part but that isn’t an issue to us at all as we’ve teamed up with a collection of tech-based nonprofits and a newly organized local partner, Passion Incubator (http://www.passionincubator.ng) in order to accomplish this, and we’ve already made great strides. More so, we’ve got an excellent team in place and as a core team of diverse individuals, each one bringing unique & complementary skills & experiences to the table, this combination of talent, expertise, high tolerance for ambiguity dedication & determination to impact on the communities we serve & ability to take risks & experiment with new ideas are our greatest strengths. The values we share create a diversity that shall bring the best innovation. Our ability to relate to a wide array of people has empowered us with critical perspectives to impact on human development. We believe in long-term involvement, honest feedback on personal performance to take corrective actions and leverage on each other's expertise. We'll continually create out-of-the-box ideas without being locked into the perceived existing solutions. Please look into our updates. We love to hear from the OpenIdeo team.

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Congratulations Michael to make it to the next level. i am interested in the process and learning benchmarks

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Thank you Rapudo.

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Hi Michael, Would love to add you as a partner as I am working on a similar project in Tanzania. Can you comment on my idea and provide an applause? Thanks! I would love to know what assumptions you are testing as well.

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Great Maria. will do that immediately

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Exciting possibilities, Michael! We also think your idea could work well in tandem with this idea: http://www.openideo.com/challenge/womens-safety/ideas/women-s-startup-aggregator Mansi is a student entrepreneur from India and is currently working in the US. We hope you might collaborate to grow each other's concepts. Creativity loves company!

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You also reminded me about some of the tools on the SME Toolkit site of the International Finance Corporation: http://www.smetoolkit.org/smetoolkit/en While I think the hub you are proposing needs to focus on local relevance and mentor leadership from the community – I thought you might like to check out some of these tools to see if they could be customised for offline, local use. Looking forward to seeing how this idea grows.

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Thank you so much Meena

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DeletedUser

I like this idea. I am also working on an idea that I would like to launch in Cameroon,(soon to be posted!) so I'll keep up with your plans in case there are collaboration opportunities. :) My main question is regarding an online component to this - will there be any provision of computers in order to access the online resources? Or is is pretty common that if they are in university, they have access to computers and the internet?

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Michael I like this idea it is wonderful that you are starting a hub to enable transformation in women in Nigeria. I see some connection between the hub and
Mama Shwari http://www.openideo.com/challenge/womens-safety/ideas/mama-shwari-cradle-of-women-violence-prevention.

Just imagining how the hub will connect the socioeconomic empowerment attributed by the business incubation program to stop risk factors associated with the strong sociocultural issue that propagate violence in Africa

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Hi Rapudo,
All that matters is the message we are sending out. I went through your program and i think we are connected. we can both integrate our programs. so happy to connect with you

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Dear Michael,

this sounds like a very exciting opportunity.

It's also great to know that you did a pilot and received so much support.
I saw that you are thinking of involving universities and I was wondering what roles you saw playing for these universities. I would love to see if I can create interest and support at NYU but I need to know more about the involvement you're envisioning. Are you looking mostly for students' involvement? e.g. like Mansi mentioned by Meena in her comment? or more of an institutional support? If yes, what sort of support?

Regarding the pilot you did, was it only offline? or did you start exploring the building of a platform? On this aspect, I'm curious to know how you are envisioning the technology part.

Thanks!

al

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Many thanks Anne. We noticed that most women who attend the universities are actually from the urban slums. when they are through with their studies they often return to their primary place of residence which is the slum. our goal is to also reach out to them in their various schools so we could help develop their entrepreneurial capabilities. secondly, we see the universities as an institution that could support innovations. so part of our idea is to establish chapters across these universities to foster prosperity in our program. so student and institutional involvement is our major focus.
The pilot we did was offline , however, we are now considering an integrated approach using both offline and online model because our target audience are both the educated and uneducated women. As we grow, we will build an online platform for the project in other to get more young women involved in this project especially those in the universities and possibly to screen business ideas that will be incubated or accelerated in the long term.

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Thanks Michael for your clarification. Very interesting insights regarding women going to the university. It's interesting to know that they have this opportunity to get educated.
You say they go back to their primary place of residence, and what do they do then. Do they go back because they don't have any job opportunities despite their university degrees?

When you write "Anyone with social innovation interest can carry out this idea especially in the developing countries.", how do you imagine this help?

As for technology, I can see an interesting hybrid model of offline and online.

Sorry for all these questions. I'm just trying to better understand the context. Looking forward to seeing this idea evolve.

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Thanks a lot Anne. I am glad you are asking all this questions. Right now there is a big gap in the job market. jobs are hard to come by right now in Nigeria. its so painful that after all the suffering to get educated the women end up thinking on how to just get married and settle for less. However, we are trying to change this hopelessness by opening their eyes to other opportunities that could make them an employer of labour.
The statement "Anyone with social innovation interest can carry out this idea especially in the developing countries." means this idea could be scale to anywhere around the world with little adjustments. I believe running a program like this starts with the passion to be a changemaker,, so whoever needs help to start or replicate this idea is welcome. my team will be ready to contribute our expertise.

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Thanks Michael for this extra information. Based on what you are saying regarding women who are educated and then end up not finding jobs, I think your idea of having also chapters in the universities, and maybe getting them to develop their own business while still students or partner with uneducated women and mentor them, would be a great way to slowly make them see other opportunities. It could maybe even be a course or a program in social innovation or entrepreneurship that would have a very applied component.

Thanks for clarifying your reference to developing countries: I was unsure if you wanted help from people in developing countries or if you were suggesting replicating your effort. In fact, your idea reminds me somewhat a research post: http://www.openideo.com/challenge/womens-safety/research/economic-empowerment-through-self-employment-and-jobs

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Many thanks Anne. I still need help with this project cos right now funding has been a major barrier. I will be glad to get much support from the community too as i am also looking beyond Nigeria for this project. I am also happy that you are here Anne. Looking forward to partnering with you.