The Camfed Model

Camfed treats everyone we work with as an individual. But we do not support anyone in isolation.

Girls, Zimbabwe

Why we are different

We believe that successfully supporting an individual means investing in the structures that support her.

Training teacher mentors, providing school equipment, and establishing and nurturing parent support groups are just some of the ways we help young people to flourish. Successfully supporting a girl also means investing in all aspects of her life.

We pay school fees but our bursaries also provide uniforms and other essentials like books, pencils or sanitary protection - and we invest beyond the classroom. This includes everything from girls' clubs that offer peer mentoring; to vacation camps on science, maths and technology; to global speaking opportunities.


Our values

1. Focus on the Girl

All of our programs begin with an individual girl in rural Africa. By looking at the world from her perspective, we work to dismantle the hurdles in her way to obtaining an education and living a healthy adult life. We’re answerable first and foremost to her.

2. Involve the Community

Change can’t happen without community support. We believe people living in rural communities are best placed to solve the problems around them. Community members of all levels help with our program design and implementation.

3. Operate Transparent, Accountable Programs

We place transparency at the core of our operations. Unique social and financial auditing systems are used in a monitoring process that safeguards girls and young women.

These values are part of everything that we do: from the way we operate our finance systems, to the way we collect data and share information, to the way we communicate within and about Camfed. We want girls to have shoes that fit them, for schools to choose how to use funds they are allocated, for parent groups to decide how they can best help their children, and for everyone we work with to help gather and share information. We explain bursary entitlements to all girls receiving them, for example, so they know what to expect and how to ensure they get all that is promised, and share this information with parents, schools and the committees responsible for managing this process so that the system is fully transparent.

Camfed has gained international recognition for this approach.


The virtuous cycle

Camfed's Model promotes a virtuous cycle of empowerment by supporting girls through their development.

See how this works in the case of some of the women who are now helping others achieve their potential.


Long-term partnerships

A partner with the individual

Everyone is unique. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. This is true no matter whether they are old or young, rich or poor, male or female.

A child born in a poor rural community has grown up to expect little and make no demands. So our success depends on reflecting back each person's value and worth so they grow up knowing they are entitled to the rights and opportunities that should be the birthright of every 21st century child - and giving them the access to an education that will help them make the most of these.

“I used to go to school barefooted, with my face full of hunger. If only I get the chance, I will do something great.”

Runyararo Mashingaidze, Now a doctor at Harare General Hospital

A partner in the community

Camfed does not impose programs and projects from outside. We do not set up office in communities, we do not bring in staff from abroad. Instead, we work through existing institutions, with local government officials and other community leaders. We bring these groups together in local committees who decide where help is needed, administer funds and monitor change.

These committees, which include senior local education officials and other government officers, teachers, parents, and traditional authorities, ensure that everyone is working together - and that resources and information are shared efficiently - for the neediest children.

“Teachers, parents, students and local officials are actively working together to help vulnerable local children. Camfed doesn’t work ‘with the community’. It is the community itself. ”

Hilary Wilce, The Independent

A partner with government

Camfed works within existing school and government systems to support change and complement what is already being done at national and local level. In Zambia, for example, we helped to develop the national guidelines on child protection in schools. In Ghana, we led research for the government into what works in successfully delivering girls' education. We start work in a country at the invitation of that country and have Memorandums of Understanding in place with all Ministries of Education in countries where we operate that ensure we work together for the good of the child.

“Camfed treats us as partners, not as problems to be fixed or crooks to be avoided.”

Lawford Palani, District Commissioner, Malawi

A partner for the long term

In line with our commitment to support individual girls and recognising that it takes time for change to stick, Camfed offers support for the long term. We work from primary school through to post-secondary school training and tertiary education. Our network of Camfed graduates - Cama - is the largest network of its kind and now boasts more than 19,500 educated young women from previously disadvantaged backgrounds. We continue to work in all the communities where we have ever established a presence - in those where we have been working longest, it is Camfed graduates and parent support groups - not Camfed staff - who are the ones setting up programs in new districts!

“This is not just something you can do easily and walk away. It creates a house in your heart and lives in it. ”

Shakespeare Manhimanzi, Head of Zuvarabuda Primary School, Zimbabwe