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BAYA, Bridging the digital divide between the Haves and Have Nots

Ngasa Wise -Coordinator of BAYA Enterprises

Ngasa Wise -Coordinator of BAYA Enterprises

Bamenda Online recently caught up with Ngasa Wise, the Director of BAYA Enterprises to find out more about this association that came to the limelight of recent after it empowered a group of underprivileged girls from the rural areas surrounding Bamenda. He began by telling us that BAYA is a product of Action Foundation Common Initiative Group (AFCIG) , www.afcig.org and aims to assist disadvantaged girls and women gain access to information and communication technology tools and employment or self-employment. He spoke to Abongwa Fozo at his Savanah Street office in Bamenda

Bamenda Online: What does BAYA stands for?

Ngasa Wise: BAYA actually is a word in my native language which means “to assist” this is mostly help or assistance towards an elderly woman or younger girls by the community. I thought BAYAwas just appropriate for the idea we had in mind since we are making use of a partnership approach that makes use of all stakeholders within the communities in which we work including government institutions, local authorities and the private sector. 

Bamenda Online: What is the objective of Baya?

Ngasa Wise: BAYA purposely exists to support underprivileged girls and women to access information and communication technologies, something they are not privileged to because of these or that barrier.  We support women with disabilities, single teenage mothers, school drop outs, street girls, girls from very poor background notably in the rural areas and orphans and empower them with ICTs to help improve on their livelihoods, offer them another opportunity in life and above all give them hope.

Bamenda Online: When was Baya created and what are some of its achievements this far?

Ngasa Wise:  BAYA was created barely a few months back, that was in February 2014. Since then we have been able to train and assist 22 underprivileged girls to gain ICT skills, mentorship, and work placement and employment opportunities in Cameroon. This has not been entirely by us but with partners like the Bamenda City Council and other councils in Mezam which have helped to offer them job placements and employment and some financial support from the Pollination Fund in the USA.

We are still starting, so we still have a long way to go towards achieving our goals. We are building a working partnership with the Regional Delegation of Social Affairs for the Northwest which is helping us identify our target group, give us technical assistance and the necessary legal framework in this sector.

Bamenda Online: Do you have a specific target?

Ngasa Wise: Yes we do, mostly girls between the ages of 14 and 19. These are those abandoned by their families, school dropouts, street girls, girls suffering from stigmatization because of one or two conditions, teenage mothers and girls from very poor background. These are our target groups and others alike.

Bamenda Online: Are there mechanisms put in place to ensure sustainability of the Baya project?

Ngasa Wise: You know, a project like this would not live to see another day if you don’t put in place such mechanisms. We would like to see this project completely self reliant within the next three to four years. We have registered BAYA as a social enterprise with the intention of setting up a computer training program for the financially stable which we intend to use the proceeds from it in the days ahead to sustain the charitable part of the project.

Bamenda Online:  What is the relationship between Baya and AFCIG?

Ngasa Wise: Yes, Baya is a child of AFCIG; Baya is an arm of AFCIG. Baya come to the light because of the demands we registered in the AFCIG youth action programs where we found out that there existed a wide ICT bridge between youths in the urban milieu and those in rural areas, and again there existed such a wide gap between haves and the have nots particularly those from poor background and disadvantaged girls.

We realised this during the AFCIG’s entrepreneurship scheme in 2012 that was aimed at reducing poverty, crime and sexually transmissible infections amongst underprivileged youths in Cameroon, sponsored by UN Habitat that so many girls from poor backgrounds and from disadvantaged situations were barred from moving forward because of the lack of ICT skills. We thought that if we empower them with ICT skills this could overcome that barrier. Both associations work hand in glove. 

Bamenda Online: Any last word?

Yeah, Baya needs each and everyone's support. I think when the girl child is empowered the nation to is. So let people, let other NGOs, let goverments, let local councils and various goverment departments think about using ICT to empower our girls particularly the disadvantaged. This is my plea, this is my cry.

Bamenda Online: Thank you so much.

Ngasa Wise: Its me to thank you. You are welcome