Minembwe Women Entrepreneurs Project
Location: Minembwe, South Kivu, D.R. Congo
The Democratic Republic of Congo is frequently listed as one of the worst places in the world to be a woman, especially the Eastern parts of the country, where South Kivu province is located. The average income of a Congolese woman is just $0.74 per day, way below the threshold of extreme poverty. Access to education and healthcare is limited, with about 57 percent of Congolese women having no formal education at all. About 40 percent of girls in Congo are married off before they turn 18.
The project will be implemented in a cluster of villages in Minembwe in the high plateaus of Itombwe in South Kivu province, DRC. This area has high levels of food insecurity and malnutrition, along with inter-tribal rivalry that occurs in the absence of common interests and goals among its three main tribes. This project and subsequent ones will not only build livelihoods for poor households but also indirectly foster peace and stability in the area by bringing participants and villages from different tribes to work together in building sustainable livelihoods.
This project will identify, select, train and finance 30 women from food insecure households in Minembwe area. Upon selection, women entrepreneurs will undergo an intensive week-long training program in which they learn the basics of starting/running a small business, learn about working in groups and groups’ management, form business teams and join Akiba groups.
The project will provide selected women with the training and tools to effectively utilize the capital for productive ends. Since the women are poor, vulnerable and marginalized within their communities, this project provide seed grants (three quarters of start-up costs). Women will be required to save and bring in a quarter ($67 per woman) themselves.
At the end of the week-long training, each business team will receive the first installment of their seed grant (50%) and set clear, measurable growth targets. A year-long sustained training and mentorship support will continue to build women’s skills in financial literacy and business management, confidence and a social support system for women entrepreneurs to keep learning from each other and from our staff members. Once business operations are running and upon meeting goals, each business team will receive the second and last installment of their grant (50%).
Key components of this project include:
Training and mentorship
Yearlong sustained training and mentorship: accompanying women entrepreneurs through the journey of transforming their lives through Bi-weekly meetings and training sessions, building their confidence and social capital
Healing: fostering an environment for personal growth through sharing stories, peer-learning and capacity building from our staff throughout the year
Providing seed grants for business teams to launch businesses.
Providing women entrepreneurs with continued market skills development training and linkages
Engaging and training concerned men to ensure they understand the benefits of empowered and productive women, and provide support to women entrepreneurs
Engaging local and church leaders in the communities to be supporters of the project and agents for women’s empowerment.
The overall objective of this project is to contribute to sustainable livelihoods of women from poor households in Eastern Congo, increase income and improve the status of women in society in the area. The project aims at training and financing a class of 30 women entrepreneurs, who will go on to launch businesses and impact the lives of an estimated 210 people, many of whom are children.
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