Several global, regional and local organisations, including bmobile, joined forces to create a workshop to empower young women in e-commerce.
Organised in observance of the International Telecommunications Union-backed initiative Girls in ICT Day, the event offered a fun and interactive online and in-person workshop to teach young female entrepreneurs how to design and build their online stores using the international Shopify platform.
The event was led by the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) and held in collaboration with the Ministry of Public Administration and Digital Transformation (MPADT), CANTO, GSMA, Verizon, Equals Global Partnership, Restore A Sense of I Can (RSC) and Tobago Information Technologies Ltd (TITL) as well as sponsors, including bmobile and other corporate entities.
The attendees, all aged between 18 and 25, benefited from the instruction of skilled facilitators from RSC and TITL to learn the skills needed to jump into e-commerce.
Gerard Cooper, general manager, Shared Services at TSTT, highlighted the importance of a communications and technology company joining this initiative. “Not only are we an indigenous company, partly owned by the people of Trinidad and Tobago, but we are also a company that operates every day in the communities that we serve. We interact with our customers daily in their homes and businesses, and we know the importance of building a stronger female network of technologically empowered women. Women are not only the resilient centre of families, but they are also leading some of the most innovative and successful businesses and organisations locally and internationally. Our role is to help continue to foster their ability to exceed their goals, especially in a smart, digitally-driven world,” he added.
During the workshop, Minister of Public Administration and Digital Transformation Allyson West addressed the participants. She noted that this is an example in which “we are creating platforms to allow you to develop that future for yourselves.” CEO of TATT, Cynthia Reddock-Downes, echoed her sentiments and added that “modern entrepreneurs are in the trenches, building their business and using data and technology to do it well”. Marslyn Melville-Jack, Secretary of Education, Innovation and Energy at the Division of
Education, Innovation and Energy, Tobago House of Assembly, who also delivered remarks, stated that “female participation in the economy should be the norm, not the exception.”
She added that programmes such as this one are essential as they increase female participation in the overall economy by generating income-generating opportunities for small businesses.
The event, which started with participants creating and registering a Shopify account, provided all the technical knowledge needed for attendees to open their entire businesses online.
Some participants had ideas for Islamic-fashion brands, while others considered sweeter options like online bakeries with local delivery.
One attendee, 21-year-old Nirmala Bandoo, of Couva, pointed out, “This learning opportunity was worth it. I would say it’s highly rated!” Her current business, DMB Tutoring Services, started in January 2021 and one that she has marketed using Facebook. “I found that having a Shopify platform, where I can post all of my products, prices and descriptions, to be highly beneficial and overall a very good opportunity for me to grow my business.” Her tutoring programmes cover preschool to primary and secondary school levels.
This year is the tenth anniversary of the global Girls in ICT Day. Since 2011, over 377,000 girls and young women have taken part in more than 11,400 International Girls in ICT Day celebrations in 171 countries.
Teresa Wankin, Secretary-General, CANTO, thanked the passionate team members who remain committed to the cause of Women and Girls in ICT. Girls in ICT Day seeks to encourage girls and young women to consider studies and careers in information and communication technologies (ICT).