23/08/2012 12:45 BST | Updated 23/10/2012 06:12 BST

New Mobile Service Supports Business Women in Nigeria

In any society, entrepreneurs are brave pioneers, taking risks and working hard to break barriers. In Nigeria, it's inspiring to see so many entrepreneurs starting up new businesses in the face of challenges such as unreliable electricity, inadequate infrastructure and insufficient small business investment. Nigeria's GDP grew 6.2% in the first quarter of this year. Women entrepreneurs contribute to this economic rise with 25-30% of Nigeria's registered businesses; however, the important role that women could play has not yet been realised. Women's businesses are largely hidden in the informal economy. They often face additional business challenges to their male counterparts such as accessing loans without collateral, being the major household care giver with less time to focus on their businesses and a lack of control over household income.

The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women supports these women entrepreneurs, providing them with a variety of resources and tools to overcome barriers they may encounter. In our published report Mobile Value Added Services: A Business Growth Opportunity for Women Entrepreneurs in partnership with the ExxonMobil Foundation, we demonstrated that business barriers in emerging markets can be addressed through the development of targeted mobile phone services. We launched this research at the Council on Foreign Relations earlier this year and are now following up on our findings, carrying out recommendations from the report with the mobile technology sector to deliver a service specifically tailored for women business owners in developing and emerging markets.

This week, in partnership with Nokia and MTN Nigeria, we are launching Business Women, a new mobile phone service for women looking to grow their small-scale enterprise in Nigeria. Designed with the experiences of Nigerian women entrepreneurs in mind, the service was developed by international and Nigerian entrepreneurship experts. It provides valuable, bite-size information on business management such as advice on working with traders, how to improve distribution channels, the steps required to register a business in Nigeria and how to tap into valuable business networks. Customers who opt into this service will receive four to five text messages with business tips per week and also have the option of taking a weekly multiple choice quiz to test what they've learned.

We will introduce Business Women in conjunction with a project that provides hands-on business skills training to over 2,000 women entrepreneurs in Nigeria in partnership with the Youth for Technology Foundation. We look forward to charting the progress of the women entrepreneurs who use Business Women and to following this launch with mobile services for women entrepreneurs in Indonesia and Egypt soon.