Caring for better business by women

The Care organisation fights poverty by supporting girls and women, and is now receiving funds from the Kavli Trust to develop female entrepreneurs in Burundi.

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Text and photo: Anders Nordstoga/Care

With a gross domestic product (GDP) of just USD 700 per person, this east African nation ranks as the world’s second-poorest country. It is also one of the countries with the lowest level of gender equality. Women have poorer access to education, paid work and public services.

Cycle of poverty

All this contributes to a vicious cycle of poverty. With backing from the Kavli Trust, Care is working to reverse this by helping female entrepreneurs from saving and loan groups.

As one of the few bodies fighting poverty with an emphasis on the needs and opportunities of women and girls, the organisation is uniquely placed to promote female economic action in Burundi.

It has collaborated for eight years with local partners on a programme for gender equality and women’s rights. This has yielded good results and valuable experience for expanding help to female entrepreneurs.

Much of this work is pursued through a network of saving and loan groups established around Burundi by Care. This saving-based form of microfinance was developed by the organisation 25 years ago, and is now used by aid bodies worldwide.

The world’s poorest people lack access to ordinary bank services, and thereby have fewer opportunities to escape their poverty. Saving and loan groups give poor people the chance to change their lives and their communities through their own efforts.

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Training

Funding from the Kavli Trust will allow Care to provide further training and support for female entrepreneurs with the potential to establish or expand activities through more investment than the saving and loan groups can provide.

Four hundred potential businesswomen will receive comprehensive teaching in how to establish a company, and will educate a further 4 500 people.

Care’s experience indicates that each person participating in the programme will contribute on average to reducing the poverty of five family members.

Covering such subjects as developing business plans and market analysis, the commercial lessons will be supplemented by help to access new markets.

Other backing includes assistance with formal registration processes and facilitating contacts with banks and other financial institutions for developing tailored products. The project will also include the offer of more specialised vocational education.