Rural Women Entrepreneurs

Digital tools for strengthening rural areas

The challenge

People living in rural regions often are chronically disconnected from a variety of services that would provide them with opportunities for better health, nutrition and economic opportunity – this is no different on the continent of Africa. The COVID-19 pandemic, global supply chain disruptions and climate change have further exacerbated shortages and access problems in many countries, with women and vulnerable individuals often worst affected. Innovative digital solutions can help alleviate these bottlenecks.

Our approach

RWE-Africa combines the lessons learned in Bangladesh from the women-led social enterprise model honed during the BMZ-supported “Mobilizing Rural Women Entrepreneurs for COVID-19 Response and Recovery in Rural Bangladesh” project with insights and co-creation involving a variety of stakeholders via the digilab Scaling Lab Sprint.

Women’s Business Centres (WBCs) provide a platform for digital service delivery in remote regions that respond directly to chronic disconnection of the most under-resourced members of rural communities. As women-led organisations, WBCs offer access to skill development opportunities and aggregation services in a friendly, safe, and trusted environment which fosters community and wellbeing. As the network of entrepreneurs grows, they create new access to digital resources and can offer fee-for-service training and services to their communities.

Our project goals

Our goal is to build the adaptive capacity and resilience of rural communities in Kenya, Nigeria, and Malawi to the food and climate crises using a women-led social enterprise model to facilitate digital skill building and service delivery.

This will enable female entrepreneurs to provide the rural population with access to urgently needed wellness and nutrition services. In each country, we seek to identify and work collaboratively with local women entrepreneurs to create market-based strategies and approaches to identify and respond to contextual opportunities in food security, nutrition, WASH, family planning and beyond, integrating their existing business activities in such a way that they are able to build lasting connections and incentives as well as adaptive local structures that are increasingly resilient to disruptions in global supply chains created by the interlinked food and climate crises.

  • The pandemic adds a new dimension to the importance of digital health services, including in rural areas.

  • In addition to access to health services, this scaling project focuses on women’s empowerment and entrepreneurial skills training.


More than 350 women entrepreneurs come together to build Women Business Centres; Approximately 60,000 community members benefit from new or improved access to digital services as a result in the first year.

Partner countries

Malawi, Nigeria and Kenya

Implementation partners:

Gorta Group
(United Purpose – Self Help Africa)