The pandemic has spurred many to turn into entrepreneurs, including women, who have made their presence known as disruptors for success and innovation. However, they faced twice as many challenges as their male counterparts.
While there are a growing number of industry bodies, banks, NGOs and women’s empowerment councils working to support and encourage women entrepreneurs, help is often limited to providing them with better funding, networking and business skills mentoring. However, there is little support for women entrepreneurs when it comes to digital literacy and technology adoption.
Even as businesses and supporting infrastructure increasingly adopt digitalization, small entrepreneurs, especially women, continue to face technological challenges. From accessing banking services to adopting digital transformation services to improve and optimize business efficiency, women entrepreneurs face more challenges. Hardest hit are women business owners in inner-city and rural areas, who must also grapple with gender barriers. These women entrepreneurs need specialized technical assistance in the following areas:
Professional assistance in financial technology, such as integration with payment gateways, app-based payments and linkages, cybersecurity and data protection. Not many business owners are lucky enough to have a financier or investor for their business. Some people have to raise funds themselves, use a credit card, or bootstrap their business. Women-owned companies are among the most common types of businesses that receive very little funding. Women are often denied loans due to cultural and gender biases—many institutions prefer to support male-owned companies.
Cloud computing and data storage, analytics and privacy
Data management in the traditional sense, through the data center, is not only expensive, but also has limited access. With wider technology adoption, unconventional methods like remote work are becoming the norm. Cloud computing is increasingly proving to be an efficient and cost-effective option not only for data storage, but also for seamless, secure and customized data sharing and overall data management. Another advantage it offers among start-ups and MSMEs is that it offers low or minimal capital expenditures, which helps keep costs down.
Modernize legacy applications
Laying the groundwork with modern infrastructure will allow women entrepreneurs to maintain a competitive advantage and take advantage of new opportunities in their businesses, which will be significantly boosted when 5G arrives. Application modernization and optimization in sync with 5G facilitates continuous business innovation; in a fully virtualized environment, no longer bound by physical constraints, one can rapidly deploy applications anywhere across data centers, clouds and devices, and Business growth can be accelerated by reducing time to market. In the long run, this can improve efficiency, maintain a competitive advantage and gain more customers.
Technical training and skills development
With the help of technical expertise (robotic leadership and technical expertise), female entrepreneurs can enjoy a competitive advantage that will also be a driver of business results. The best way to empower your technical team is to develop technical skills through upskilling and retraining workshops. Many tech companies can build custom LMSs to train employees relevant to their industries and fields.
Business process automation and technical process optimization
Business process automation produces good results when implemented and assisted correctly, going beyond simple process improvement to encompass process excellence. This is made feasible through automation, eliminating the need for manual labor and completing process activities efficiently and effectively.
New products development
With the right experts around, any new product can be developed easily and in a timely manner. Starting with the ideation, UI/UX, development and release process, many tech companies can quickly evaluate and build an MVP for funding. These companies provide funding to further enhance and maintain the product. They act as an extension team to the core team.
Build online portals and mobile applications
Today, all businesses, large and small, conduct business through online portals and mobile applications. Building your online presence will help increase your brand awareness and create a strong digital identity, increase customer engagement, increase awareness, and act as a gateway for communication between internal and external customers. For female entrepreneurs just starting out, fully building a digital presence on their own or with the help of unqualified friends or employees may not only be ineffective, but counterproductive. Therefore, the right experts to guide and help build cost-effective and efficient digital identities are critical, especially for new businesses.
Connected women with access to technological processes are key to a nation’s economic growth. Women represent half of the world’s population and half of the world’s potential to grow, create opportunities and build economically resilient societies. When women go online, they can increase economic opportunity, inspire innovative ideas, and be a catalyst for social change.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)