A year ago, when we launched the Solutions for Women Global Tech Challenge in partnership with CES, the world’s most influential technology event, little did we know that a pandemic of enormous magnitude would radically change the world as we knew it, and make the challenge we were hoping to tackle—closing the digital gender divide—even more pressing. Why? Because women lag behind men in their use of digital technologies and the COVID-19 pandemic made it worse.
We know that connectivity can unlock tremendous economic and social opportunities for women, their communities, and ultimately benefit a nation’s development. Yet, 52% of women globally do not have access to internet and in the developing world, 33% of women are less likely than men to be connected.
The winners of the Global Tech Challenge: Solutions for Women, announced at CES 2021, are contributing to shift this narrative. From increasing access to connectivity and information for women in rural areas to mentoring isolated female entrepreneurs, they are tackling the digital gender divide on multiple fronts.
Selected among 200 applicants, our three winners have demonstrated the impact digital technologies have had for the different women they serve and the communities around them.
- Through its digital incubation program, Bridge for Billions has supported 717 women entrepreneurs from more than 70 countries, helping democratize access to quality entrepreneurship training, mentoring, and business opportunities globally. What stood out to the selection committee is the innovative business model created by this organization to connect entrepreneurs and mentors, as well as the integration of gender equality in the design and implementation of their program.
- MicroMentor has enabled 12,481 women entrepreneurs to access to mentorship since their creation in 2008. The free platform enables access in languages other than English, which is key in furthering inclusion of underserved entrepreneurs. The scale and reach of the Micromentor platform, which builds bridges between mentors and mentees despite geographical distance and cultural differences, earned them a place amongst winners of this challenge.
- An entrepreneurship program, Soochnapreneur connects India’s rural citizens to information about government entitlements and digital services through an application called MeraApp. More than 25,000 women have been trained under this program, further empowering around 5 million women. The innovative use of technology through the MeraApp – a multilingual app to cater to India’s vast linguistic diversity that can work in India’s unconnected areas, is remarkable.
We look forward to working with the selected innovators so that women and girls worldwide can fully embrace the opportunities offered by digital transformation. To find out more about the winners, watch this video: