How can women across Africa use No-code and AI to launch global businesses?
August 7, 2023
Africa is rich with potential, and women entrepreneurs have a vital role to play in unlocking this growth. Thinking particularly about the tech industry, it has long been a male-dominated space, with many women facing barriers to entry. In this article, we will explore how no-code and AI technologies could usher in a new era of economic freedom and liberation for women in Africa through launching innovative global businesses, overcoming the limitations imposed by traditional tech spaces. We will discuss specific business ideas and the no-code tools that can be used to bring them to life, as well as the pros and cons of AI for these purposes.
The Digital Gender Gap: Coding and Male-Dominated Spaces
Historically, the tech industry has been heavily male-dominated, with women facing numerous barriers to entry. This can be attributed to various factors, such as gender stereotypes, lack of access to resources, and cultural norms that deter women from pursuing careers in technology. As a result, many talented and innovative women are kept out of tech, often preventing their ideas from reaching a global audience.
Enter No-Code and Artificial Intelligence
No-code and AI technologies are transforming the entrepreneurial landscape by making it easier than ever for individuals to create and scale businesses, regardless of their technical expertise. With no-code tools, aspiring entrepreneurs can build digital products and services without writing a single line of code. AI, on the other hand, allows businesses to automate processes, analyse large volumes of data quickly, and create personalised experiences for customers, all with minimal human intervention.
What is no-code? And what are the applications of AI in no-code?
No-code, in simple terms, refers to a set of tools and platforms that enable users to create software applications without the need for traditional programming or coding skills. No-code tools often provide a visual interface where users can drag and drop elements to design their application, define its functionality, and set up workflows or processes. This makes it easier for non-technical individuals to create and launch software applications without having to learn programming languages or rely on developers.
AI, or artificial intelligence, is a branch of computer science focused on developing machines and software that can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence. AI can be used in various ways to enhance no-code platforms and tools, making them even more powerful and user-friendly. Some applications of AI in no-code include:
Natural Language Processing (NLP): AI can be used to understand and process human language, allowing users to interact with no-code tools using conversational interfaces or text input. This can make the process of creating applications more intuitive and accessible.
Automation: AI can be used to automate certain aspects of the application development process, such as generating code or configuring workflows, making it faster and more efficient for users to create their applications.
Image and Voice Recognition: AI can be used to process and analyze images or voice input, allowing users to incorporate these features into their no-code applications, such as building voice-activated apps or using image recognition for various purposes.
What are some of these business ideas?
An e-commerce platform is a fantastic business opportunity for African women looking to sell their products or services globally. No-code tools like Shopify, Wix, and Squarespace make it easy to create a professional online store without any coding knowledge. These platforms come with integrated payment gateways, shipping options, and customizable templates to ensure that the store is unique and tailored to the entrepreneur’s vision.
A digital marketplace connects buyers and sellers, making it easy for African women to showcase both their talents/skills as well as products to a global audience. No-code tools like Flutterflow, Webflow, and Bubble can be used to create a fully functional marketplace without any coding expertise. These platforms offer easy customization, built-in payment solutions, and user-friendly interfaces for both buyers and sellers.
Online Education Platform
Online education is a booming industry, and African women can capitalise on this opportunity by creating their online courses, workshops, or training programs. No-code tools like Teachable, Thinkific, and Podia can help entrepreneurs create and manage their digital education platforms with ease whereas platforms like Circle or Mighty Networks can help create communities. These platforms allow for course creation, content management, networking and student engagement, all without any coding experience.
Pros and Cons of AI for Global Businesses Out of Africa
Here are some of the immediate benefits:
Increased Efficiency: AI can help automate repetitive tasks and processes, allowing entrepreneurs to focus on more strategic aspects of their business. This can lead to increased efficiency and productivity. Goodbye burnout!
Data-Driven Insights: AI can analyze vast amounts of data, uncovering patterns and trends that can inform business decisions. This can help African women entrepreneurs make more informed choices, improving their chances of success in the global market.
Enhanced Customer Experience: AI-powered tools like chatbots and recommendation engines can help businesses provide personalized experiences to customers, which can result in increased customer satisfaction and loyalty. Customer service has long been a thorn for businesses and their customers across Africa, and this is an opportunity to turn the tables.
Cost Savings: Implementing AI solutions can help businesses save costs by reducing the need for a large workforce or additional resources. For example, AI-powered chatbots can handle customer service inquiries, eliminating the need to hire and train customer support agents. Research has shown that women often have lesser starting capital compared to men, and this is where AI can really help women take off, with hiring teams coming in later in the game.
But it’s not all sunshine and roses, right?
Ethical Concerns: The use of AI technologies raises ethical concerns, such as potential biases in data and algorithms, privacy issues, and the potential for job displacement. African entrepreneurs must carefully consider the ethical implications of implementing AI solutions in their businesses.
Technical Expertise: While no-code tools have made it easier for non-technical individuals to create and manage AI-powered solutions, there may still be instances where some technical expertise is required to properly implement and maintain AI technologies.
Dependence on Connectivity: AI-powered solutions often rely on stable internet connectivity, not to mention can be energy intensive. In some parts of Africa, internet access can be unreliable or limited, which may affect the performance of AI solutions and limit their benefits.
Large volumes of money have already been poured into coding programs for women across Africa. While not in the volume that is needed to really see impact on a continent of 1.5 billion people, but there have been commendable efforts by both the public and private sector to increase the number of women in STEM across Africa.
You might ask, why would no-code initiatives succeed where traditional coding programs for women have faced challenges?
We believe there are a number of reasons.
Lower Barrier to Entry: Learning to code can be time-consuming and require a significant investment in terms of effort and resources. No-code tools, on the other hand, are designed to be more user-friendly and accessible, allowing women with limited technical backgrounds to quickly create functional applications and prototypes. This lowers the barrier to entry and makes it more appealing for women to participate. You can go from newbie to MVP in a matter of days or weeks.
Faster Results: With no-code tools, women can see the immediate results of their work as they build and design applications without having to write complex code. This instant feedback can be motivating and rewarding, fostering a sense of accomplishment and encouraging women to continue pursuing their projects.
Focus on Problem Solving and Creativity: No-code initiatives allow women to focus on the creative and problem-solving aspects of building a digital product, rather than getting bogged down in the technical details of coding. This can make the process more enjoyable and engaging, and may better align with the interests and passions of many women entrepreneurs.
Community and Support: No-code initiatives often come with their own communities and support networks, providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for women to learn, collaborate, and share their experiences. This sense of belonging can help overcome the feelings of isolation and exclusion that may arise in traditionally male-dominated coding programs. THIS is a big part of what we are working on at Women are Building. When one woman succeeds, we all succeed.
Scalability: No-code tools can enable women to rapidly prototype and iterate on their ideas, allowing them to more quickly launch and scale their businesses. This increased speed and efficiency can be a significant advantage in the competitive world of entrepreneurship.
We hope this is helpful in highlighting the potentials of no-code and AI to support African women entrepreneurs to tap into the global market and make their mark on the world. If you have any questions or would like to collaborate with us, please head over to our Twitter/Instagram or Facebook account and send us a DM or visit our website at womenarebuilding.com.