Mentoring Women in Business at Qualcomm

Using 3G Tablets to Train Women Entrepreneurs
Jan 9, 2020 11:05 AM ET
Article

Qualcomm® Wireless Reach™ is a strategic initiative that brings wireless technology to underserved communities globally. Wireless Reach invests in programs that foster entrepreneurship, aid in public safety, enhance the delivery of health care, enrich teaching and learning and improve environmental sustainability. Mobile technology, powered by Qualcomm inventions, has helped shape a better future by bringing the Internet to the unconnected, education to the unschooled, financial services to the unbanked, and jobs to the unemployed. Currently, there are 119 Wireless Reach programs in 47 countries reaching over 18 million people through Qualcomm technology.

The Mentoring Women in Business Program, implemented in collaboration with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women (CBFW), Tune Talk Mobile Prepaid and the Foundation for Women’s Education and Vocational Training, utilizes 3G technology to connect business professionals around the world with women entrepreneurs in Malaysia. The program was developed to enhance women’s skills and knowledge in the areas of business and technology, in order to help them grow and maintain their own successful businesses. The skills and information these women gain improve their self-confi dence, maximize their entrepreneurial potential, improve their socioeconomic status and empower them to become self-reliant.

Challenge

  • In emerging economies, fi nancial independence can give women greater control over their own lives and their children’s lives. Economic security gives women a more infl uential voice in tackling injustice and discrimination in their communities and wider society.
  • As underlined by the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, there is a strong correlation between gender equality and a country’s prosperity and economic competitiveness. 
  • Investment in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) was central to economic growth in Malaysia and Thailand between 1995 and 2000.1 However, there is still a clear gender divide, with women representing only 22 percent of Internet users in Asia.
  • In Malaysia, 99% of businesses are Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs). SMEs make up 31% of the national GDP. 
  • The number of entrepreneurs grew from 1.2 million in 1982 to 2.2 million in 2008. Of the 2.2 million, only 13.1% were women-owned businesses (SME Annual Report 2010).

Solution

  • A virtual solution combining 3G connectivity and online mentoring, was developed by CBFW to connect women entrepreneurs in Malaysia with mentors who are highly skilled professionals from around the world. 
  • The mentees, primarily from Selangor, Kedah, Perlis, Sarawak, Malacca and Johor, work with a dedicated mentor for one year to achieve business goals that are tailored to mentees’ needs and mentors’ expertise.
  • Prior to their mentoring relationships, the women entrepreneurs receive in-person ICT, English and business training from the Foundation for Women’s Education and Vocational Training. This builds the skills and confi dence needed to participate in and benefi t from mentoring relationships.
  • Program participants are provided with tablets powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon™, a product of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., in addition to Internet connectivity via Tune Talk’s 3G WCDMA/HSPA network.
  • Women entrepreneurs manage their small businesses using the tablet and mentoring platform in their workplace.
  • 3G wireless access enables participants to benefi t from a specialized web platform, where participants can: network with a global community of entrepreneurs and successful business professionals, gain critical support; and access and share information.
  • Trainings on Google applications enable mentees to learn about additional technologies to develop and grow their businesses. During the program, mentees attend webinars on business and inspirational topics, as well as in-person events.

Impact

  • Training and Mentorship
    • 200 women entrepreneurs have completed their training and have been matched with a mentor. With the 3G tablets, they are able to connect with their mentors, build digital literacy and business skills, and access new information and prospective markets.
  • Improved ICT and English Skills
    • Through the pre-program training delivered by the Foundation for Women’s Education and Vocational Training, 98% of mentees improved their ICT skills and 97% improved their English skills.
  • Measured Gains
    • Mentees report that they have gained a wide range of skills through the program. Of mentees to graduate from the program and complete their fi nal feedback forms:
      • 98% improved their English skills
      • 98% improved their communication skills
      • 95% gained strategy and planning skills
      • 86% gained marketing skills
      • 90% found ways to access new markets
      • 75% increased their fi nancial knowledge and knowledge on funding options
      • 95% built networks and gained new business contacts
      • 97% gained confi dence
      • 68% expanded their online presence (e.g., built a new website, launched a new Facebook page) 

Program Stakeholders

  • Qualcomm
  • Qualcomm Wireless Reach
  • Cherie Blair: Foundation for Women
  • Tune Talk
  • Yayasan Pendidikan & Vokasional Wanita Malaysia: Foundation for Women's Education and Vocational Training

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