In late 2015, five small grants were awarded to graduates of the South Africa Regional GWIM Workshop.
Often with capacity building programs, the relationship between graduates and program implementers terminates once the workshop ends.
That is not the case with the Global Women in Management (GWIM) program. With over a decade of generous support from the ExxonMobil Foundation’s Women’s Economic Opportunity Initiative, GWIM brings together women from diverse cultures and countries to share, examine, and adapt best practices worldwide to expand women’s economic opportunities and meet the needs of their communities and countries.
The three-to-four-week workshop strengthens competencies in program and financial management, leadership, fundraising, monitoring and evaluation, strategic communication, and advocacy to enhance the management and implementation of women’s economic empowerment programs. Technical training focuses on developing and adapting tools and models for business planning, market analysis, product development, and social entrepreneurship.
The bottom line is this: GWIM delivers results, not just because of the quality of the workshop, but also because of the follow-on activities that happen after the participants graduate.
One of these activities is the small grants program.
During GWIM workshops, participants have two opportunities to design new and expanded projects. The first occurs during the proposal development session and the second during action planning. The GWIM team works closely with the participants to help them conceptualize and design high-quality, replicable programs that will ultimately empower and equip women in their communities to participate in their local economies. Participants are strongly encouraged to share these ideas with prospective donors when they return home.
Although many graduates are successful with their post-training fundraising efforts, many more express frustration as they try to identify and reach interested donors back home. Because of this, the GWIM small grants program responds to these needs while supporting the application of new skills acquired during the training.
Each round of small grants is directed to a specific workshop group or groups, and follows a rigid timeline of submission, review, and award. In late 2015, five small grants were awarded to graduates of the South Africa Regional Global Women in Management Workshop (GWIM); the grants will run from January to October 2016. Below is a description of the five projects:
In 2012, GWIM alumna, Magdaline Agbor, conducted a study through her organization, Changing Mentalities and Empowering Groups (CHAMEG), which found that less than five percent of women in the Betiaku region of southwest Cameroon participate in loca decision-making, largely due to poverty and illiteracy.
To address the root of the lack of women’s political participation, CHAMEG, at the request of community chiefs, proposed a project to create a cadre of self-employed young women with strong business skills that can help improve their livelihoods and lives. Through this project, 20 unemployed women aged 18 -24 will be trained to grow, cultivate, and prepare non-conventional agricultural products (i.e., Eru-Gnetum Africanum, snails, and mushrooms) for job creation, income generation, and better nutrition for beneficiary families and the general community populations. They will also be trained in small business development and management, record-keeping, and marketing. Following the training CHAMEG will help the women form and register a marketing cooperative and expand their work to reach other unemployed young women. A community farm, under the direction of the Kandem Chief, will be dedicated for use by the cooperative; 10 percent of sales will be allocated to the cooperative and 90 percent will be used to run the project and assist members in starting their own gardens as well as training others
Alumna Beatrice Sondah’s Barkedu Women’s Empowerment Project contributes to the economic empowerment and leadership capacity of vulnerable women in Lofa County, Liberia through gender, leadership, health, and Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA) trainings. The project is a geographic extension of a women’s economic recovery program being implemented by her organization, the Development Education Network-Liberia (DEN-L) in three other sites.
The organization will provide two three-day gender, leadership, and health trainings to 100 vulnerable women and girls between the ages of 17 and 60. The training will address women’s rights, laws and policies, root causes of gender discrimination, leadership and decision-making, and health education. Subsequently, two groups of 30 women will be chosen from this group to participate in a three-day business skills and VSLA basics training, as well as three, 1-day training courses over three months. DEN-L will provide each group with VSLA materials and an initial fund for buying shares, and will also provide mentoring and coaching support over the course of eight months. At least two community members will be trained to monitor the groups and report to DEN-L on a regular basis on income, rate of debt payment, interpersonal issues, and group commitment. The monitoring visits will also help project officers track the outcomes of the initial training.
Alumna Mira C. Rakotondrandria’s organization, the Malagasy Dairy Board (MDB), received a grant to implement project activities that complement two of their current programs (one funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the other by the European Union). The project aims to improve the economic and social situations of 40 women working in dairy activities by strengthening their business planning skills to enable them to more effectively manage their activities and businesses and maximize profits. In addition, the project will improve the leadership capacity of the women to support them in influencing decisions that affect their livelihoods and lives.
MDB designed the project in response to a capacity assessment survey with beneficiaries. To help motivate the trainees to put their new skills into action, there will be a step-down grant of 1,000 MGA to two qualified participants to serve as a seed grant for business activities. The winners of the grants will be determined by criteria set by the group. Following the training, project staff will monitor and provide technical support to participants in the development and implementation of business plans and, eventually, connect participants with micro-finance institutions to fund their project.
Nigerian alumna, Dr. Tinuade Oyebode, will use her grant to implement the Red Ribbon Sister Arise Project. The project will target women who have the least access to economic opportunity, and for whom these interventions could not only improve their economic situation, but also improve their health, reduce infection transmission, and mitigate social challenges that arise from unsupported orphans and vulnerable children. Tinuade’s organization, Jubilee Sisters Development Initiative, will work with the Association of Women Living with HIV and AIDS to assist 500 women to become members of the association, register the association as a cooperative so they can begin distributing loans, provide business management training to 100 members, and provideskills training to HIV widows to allow them to keep their kids in school.
Alumna Obiageli Ukuoma’s organization, Hope Alive and Basic Aid Initiative (HABA), conducted a baseline survey that revealed that over 85 percent of the women in their area of Lagos state do not consider themselves economically empowered. Even if they have access to land, many lack the support or technical knowledge to be successful famers. With the GWIM grant, HABA plans to enhance and diversify the farming activities of 60 women in Lagos state. Twenty women in Badagry, Aradagun, and Ikoga, respectively, will participate in basic gender, leadership, and financial management training and skills training in poultry, snail and fish farming, and tomato purée production. HABA will then provide seed capital to all participants who complete the training and support the graduates in forming cooperatives, one in each site, for both direct and indirect beneficiaries. To help ensure the sustainability of the project, HABA will identify, engage, and train five male participants in each of the towns to act as champions for women’s economic empowerment and to support the project. The champions will participate in gender training with the women. In conjunction with these champions and other community leaders, HABA will advocate for the creation of a designated women’s farmers market day by the end of the project.