– Target 1, 200 women in rural communities in Liberia   

G. Bennie Bravo Johnson is the author of this story.

Orange, in partnership with UN Women, has launched the economic empowerment and disaster resilience project for rural women in West and Central Africa, terming it as an initiative for women’s digital inclusion.

The launch of the project “Buy from Women” is in addition to the financial support provided to the project to consolidate the initiatives. Meanwhile, Orange and the Orange Foundation are contributing their unique technical expertise, network, and existing infrastructure, digital skills, and technologies. 

The project, which also seeks to enable UN Women and its partners to consolidate the results achieved to date through the ‘Buy from Women’ initiative and its future developments in Liberia and Mali, was launched via Zoom conference at the Orange Headquarters in Monrovia on March 10, 2022. 

Speaking at the launch ceremony, Ms. Sara Buchanan, the UN Women country representative in Liberia, stated that the adaptation of the “Buy from Women” platform to the local context is almost complete thanks to a first collaboration between the Orange Foundation and UN Women. 

She said the two Digital Houses for Women (WDC) of the Orange Foundation in Liberia will offer support for the implementation of the “Buy from Women” platform after a pilot with women’s cooperatives that operate in the cassava and cereal value chains. “Ultimately, this initiative and its developments will support 1,200 rural women across the country,” she said. 

Giving the prospective of the project, she intimated that in Mali, the technical, financial, and human resources deployed in this partnership will make it possible to intensify the offer of support to “Buy from Women” and to help 400 additional beneficiaries. 

Disclosing that the project focused on three main components that will complement Orange and UN Women’s support in Liberia, she named: digital for rural women’s economic empowerment with improved access to markets and learning opportunities through the consolidation of the Buy from Women Initiative, a focus on the e-commerce platform, as well as training, marketing, and other activities; digital for the resilience of rural women to disasters, with better coverage of risks, as well as weather warning, forecasting and advice on agriculture adapted to climate change; and the digital technology to facilitate rural women’s access to renewable energies in favor of domestic and productive uses and their democratization, including the financing of Pay-As-You-Go solar systems (prepaid, payment for a short period of use, etc.) and the strengthening of women’s skills in the energy sector. 

She further explained that the “Buy from Women” is an innovative UN Women initiative, implemented in partnership with the public and private sectors, that aims to increase the digital inclusion of rural women by facilitating access to digital technology and new market opportunities, but also to information, weather alerts, and digital financial services. This initiative improves the productivity and incomes of women-led businesses and farms. 

Ms. Buchanan intimated that the project is implemented in a dozen countries around the world, adapting the model to the needs and characteristics of each country. It has enabled 1500 Malian women to make known and market their products (shea nuts, cereals, vegetables, jewelry, and hygienic products in response to the COVID-19 crisis) and to have access to online training modules. 

For her part, Elizabeth Tchoungui, Executive Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Orange and Deputy President of the Orange Foundation, said: “As the first continent for women’s entrepreneurship and on the front line of the climate emergency, Africa’s resilience is an encouragement to continue to invest jointly between Orange and UN Women to improve the status of women in rural areas via digital technology.” 

Also addressing the signing ceremony, Oulimata Sarr, Regional Director, UN Women West and Central Africa, said, “Women’s economic empowerment is at the heart of UN Women’s mandate. It is also a formidable lever for emancipation and the guarantee of women’s human rights in the broad sense. “Buy from Women” is a flagship initiative that brings the full scope of the field possible to rural women, often far from technology, to support them in the leading role they can play in promoting sustainable development.

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