Rural businesses as a pathway to independence, leadership and philanthropy
After school, graduates in rural Africa have few job opportunities. Yet young educated women from disadvantaged families feel a deep responsibility to provide for their siblings and to support other family members, such as a widowed parent or grandparent. The young women themselves continue to be at risk of early marriage and exploitation as they seek financial security.
Through its youth enterprise programs, CAMFED is dedicated to improving the futures of young women beyond the classroom, including in climate-smart agriculture. Generating an income not only supports young women’s economic independence, their life choices, and the prospects for their families; it also enables them to expand their reach as activists and philanthropists.
CAMFED works to open up new pathways for young women through training and mentorship programs, and provides access to seed money grants or small loans.
CAMFED Association leaders with expertise setting up and running businesses provide training in business, financial literacy and life skills for the next generation of graduates. Young women learn how to plan a business, make a profit and to save money. They also learn about their rights, and gain important sexual and reproductive health knowledge. Together we explore the risk of early marriage – discussing both how to avoid it, and how to raise awareness with other girls and young women.
Through partnerships with organizations like Kiva, and through our own group savings and loan schemes, young women can gain access to the funds they need to grow or expand their businesses, in a context where women in rural areas are often considered ‘unbankable,’ because property and land ownership typically devolves to the men in the family.
And through partnerships with government and enterprise agencies, as well as vocational colleges, we connect young women to additional help, resources and opportunities to gain the skills and advice they need.