Camfed is an international non-profit organisation tackling poverty and inequality by supporting girls to go to school and succeed, and empowering young women to step up as leaders of change. Camfed invests in girls and women in the poorest rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa, where girls face acute disadvantage, and where their empowerment is now transforming communities. Since 1993, Camfed’s innovative education programmes in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana, Tanzania and Malawi have directly supported over 1,419,000 students to attend primary and secondary school, and over 3.5 million children have benefited from an improved learning environment.
Camfed believes that every child is entitled to a quality education in a safe environment and a life as an independent young adult. We directly support girls because they are the first to drop out of school, and the first to be failed by the system, facing the perils of early marriage, early pregnancy and HIV/AIDS.
Our Model and Approach
As an activist organisation, we devise robust, sustainable and transparent programmes accountable first and foremost to the girl, and designed to deliver systemic change. All our systems and processes put this principle of accountability to girls into action, and it underpins our partnerships at every level. Child protection is a non-negotiable, central tenet of all our programmes.
Partnership: Camfed is the Community
Local Activists Dismantling Barriers to Education
What makes Camfed different, and helps us succeed in the most marginalised, underserved communities, is the recognition that girls, young women and their communities are the true experts when it comes to identifying and dismantling the barriers to girls’ education and learning. So unlike any other non-profit organisation, Camfed brings together grassroots, government and civil society representatives with the knowledge and authority to address education issues spanning across individual, school, district and national level.
Parents, teachers, school leavers, traditional leaders, social workers, police and government education officers make up a formidable network of over 136,000 frontline activists who collaborate to ensure that money is directed where it is most needed. Their constant monitoring means that assistance packages can be tailored to address not only the financial, but also the psychological and social barriers faced by each individual girl when it comes to accessing and completing an education.
Partners in Improving the Quality of Education and Learning
Camfed also works in close partnership with teachers, Ministries of Education and private sector education and technology providers in order to constantly improve the quality and relevance of girls’ education.
Communities Multiplying the Benefits of Education
Camfed’s partnership approach not only ensures sustainability, but unleashes unprecedented local philanthropy, and a “virtuous cycle” of giving back, multiplying the benefits of each individual’s education. Camfed uniquely trains and supports its community activists to provide additional support to girls inside and outside the classroom, and once they finish school. School leavers in turn become qualified trainers and mentors, giving back to their communities.
Young Women Leading Change through the Camfed Alumnae Association (CAMA):
Many of Camfed’s extended programmes are delivered by the community activist members of CAMA, the 33,111-member strong pan-African network of Camfed graduates. CAMA members receive training in health, financial literacy and ICT, as well as business development and entrepreneurship. In 2014 alone, CAMA members supported 63,000 vulnerable children to stay in school, as well as delivering health and financial literacy training to well over 262,000 students and community members. As entrepreneurs and leaders, CAMA members are changing the face of their nations.
Delivering at Scale
In the past few years, Camfed’s impact has grown tremendously, proving that its unique governance model can deliver social and systemic change at scale. In 2014 alone, Camfed’s programme benefitted 2.3 million children across 119 districts. The robustness of our model has ensured that there is no dilution of quality as operations are scaled up. As a result, Camfed’s model has been recognised as best practice by the OECD for setting the standard for governance, sustainability and development innovation at scale.