[Excerpt] This study uses the assessment framework and guide of the International Labour Organization (ILO)/United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) ICTs for Women’s Entrepreneurship Development (ICT4WED) to assess the extent to which the countries’ environments are conducive to leveraging ICTs for WED, identify gaps in the environment, highlight the unmet needs of women entrepreneurs, and make evidence-based recommendations to address these gaps. The assessment followed the six conditions of the ILO/UNCTAD ICT4WED framework and guide:
(i) gender-sensitive legal and regulatory environment that favors the economic empowerment of women;
(ii) effective WED policy, leadership, and coordination;
(iii) access to gender-sensitive financial services;
(iv) access to gender-sensitive business development support (BDS);
(v) access to markets, and access, ownership, and use of technology; and
(vi) representation of women entrepreneurs and participation in policy dialogue.
This study is the first of its kind to provide data on women’s access to, and use and ownership of ICTs in urban, peri-urban, and rural areas. The study also explores women’s access to ICT-related support, their preferences for support, and their willingness and ability to pay for the supporting services. It is worth noting that survey results across the four countries show women’s low awareness of and confidence in the different ways that ICTs could be used for their businesses. However, results also show their great willingness and interest to learn how to use ICTs for businesses. Interest in the type of ICTs (internet, computers, mobile phones) varies depending on women entrepreneurs’ access, ownership, and usage.