Enabling female entrepreneurs in the Global South
Wisam Ahmed Mansour (31) is working as an entrepreneurship advisor and chief operator officer for Basic Internet Foundation.
Wisam Ahmed Mansour is working to enabling female entrepreneurs in the Global South. Photo: Anne Lene Østli.
The Basic Internet Foundation at UiO works to provide a non-discriminating access to internet services. It is a Digital Inclusion (DigI) project, focusing on health, education, and business information in areas outside the grid.
- The main focus is to provide Internet for all, as a human right, meaning that we want to give free access to those who do not have it in rural areas in Tanzania, Kenya, Mali, Ghana, Guinea, Myanmar, and India.
They have now recently completed a pilot for the program which Wisam Ahmed Mansour took part in.
- Earlier this year we went into the villages and set up an information spots, which provides free WIFI for basic Internet services. In order to be more self-sustainable, we also provided vouchers for videos content, she says.
Making a platform for entrepreneurship
Mansour role is amongst other things to make a strategy for entrepreneurship within developing economies, especially aimed at women. In collaboration with Induct Software AS, Mansour has developed the initial business zone for women “Female Entrepreneurs”.
- Women only have a minor influence when it comes to decision making in the communities. The platform means they can become more active and independent and be able to take a bigger role in the community, says Mansour and adds:
- Most of them are already entrepreneurs, but through the platform they will learn how to grow their business and be able to collaborate as well as getting a link to potential investors in an international scale.
Innovation in development work
The rolling out of the programme was a success which has resulted in a massive interest both globally and locally. Since then, Mansour has met with international and Norwegian leaders and ministers representing the project and her strategy for female entrepreneurs.
- My work is my passion. It feels great to be able to work with something that really has an impact and makes a difference in people’s lives, Mansor says.
- I am from Sudan, and I have seen how important empowering women and focusing on innovation is in these countries. Especially in regards to development related issues and for us to be able to reach the UN Sustainability goals.
Master thesis led to job
It was only by coincident that Mansour got involved in Basic Internet Foundation. During her third semester, she was considering what to do for her master thesis, and he heard about the project.
- A fellow student introduced me to the project leader Prof. Josef Noll, and I ended up writing a thesis for them. Afterwards I was lucky enough to be able to continue working for them, she says.
Now she is considering a PHD and is planning for an academic career.
Entrepreneurship Master's led to new opportunities
Before Wisam started her Master program in Entrepreneurship*, she worked in a commercial company as a project engineer. She wanted to expand her horizons, and decided to apply for the program.
- The program really opens doors, and gives many new opportunities, she says.
- I was a mechanical engineer, and knew how to solve technical problems. Now, I am also able to solve problems on a more human and organizational level. It has made me able to work on strategies, and to collaborate well across different disciplines.
- It gives you a tool kit to handle all tasks and gives you a new way of thinking in regard to logic and understanding outcomes of different plans.
Read more about the project:
- Digital-Inclusion (DigI)
- Lett-nett skal viske ut the digitale skillet (in Norwegian)
*The programme is called Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management from 2020.