Camfed is unique in the emphasis we place on continued support to girls outside the classroom and once they finish school.
The end of school is a time when young rural women in Africa are highly vulnerable. Often facing a lengthy wait between exams and results, they lack financial security. Camfed offers training, finance, and peer support at this critical juncture.
Business training and financial literacy
Camfed believes that financial knowledge is crucial to shifting the balance of power in poor communities.
Business, management and financial literacy training is a service that forms a core part of all our work – from the committees who manage Camfed’s work at local level, to parent support groups and young women. Since 1998, Cama – our alumnae network – has helped thousands of young women to set up new businesses.
Camfed offers small grants to Cama members to launch their own enterprises. Cama start-ups have included a range of shops, livestock businesses, and batik making. A charcoal briquette-making project in Rufiji, Tanzania won a 2011 award from the International Labour Organisation and a prize of US $10,000.
Research conducted in 2010 by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in Zimbabwe and Tanzania found that 93 percent of businesses started with Camfed business grants earned a profit, with 92 percent of women surveyed putting some of their profits back into their businesses and nearly 83 percent contributing to essential household expenses.
“ The course helped me to join with other entrepreneurs to negotiate bulk prices with suppliers of stock …My profits increased 320% and I was able to employ another member of staff.”
Bertha, a Cama entrepreneur in Mpika, Zambia
Camfed health activists are trained by healthcare professionals so they can train others.
These activists can then target rural communities far away from mainstream health services on hygiene and disease prevention. They play an important role in increasing HIV awareness and support in rural areas. Girls between the ages of 15 and 24 have the highest rate of HIV infection in sub-Saharan Africa, so training young women on HIV is a well-targeted intervention. Since they come from the communities themselves, Cama members are often able to tackle ‘taboo’ subjects to bring about health improvements.
To date, 2,321 young women in the Cama network have received training to be community health activists in rural communities. In 2011 alone, they reached 119,456 pupils and community members.
Read about one of our health activists here
Young women help us collect information using the latest technology, boosting their skills and confidence.
Former bursary students form part of a vast group of volunteers who support Camfed in monitoring and evaluating our programs. The young women use mobile phones to capture data from schools and communities, which is then transmitted back to centralised databases. This has not only reduced the time taken using the previous paper-based process from weeks to hours, and enhanced accuracy, but it also provides data that Camfed shares back with schools and others to help with targeted planning for the future.
We have also funded ICT centres in rural areas of Ghana and Zambia, run and managed by former Camfed bursary students, which are benefiting the whole community by improving access to goods and services and introducing new skills. Camfed’s experience has shown that by using technology and strengthening community ownership of data collection and analysis, the skill levels, confidence and status of young women in rural areas is greatly increased.
Helping to create more teachers helps boost quality of teaching and produces new role models.
Camfed supports training for secondary school graduates so that they can work as fully qualified or assistant teachers in rural schools. This is particularly important for poor rural communities where the ratio of teachers to pupils is very low, absenteeism among teachers is rife, and teachers in general have fewer qualifications than teachers in urban and wealthier areas. It also means that girls in school have adult female role models within the teaching environment, which is crucial as many of these schools have few or no female teachers.
Often these women go on to become teacher mentors in our partner schools.