Skilling for Change: Securing long-term economic independence for women VSLA members in Rwanda

by 19th Oct 2016
Skilling for Change: Securing long-term economic independence for women VSLA members in Rwanda

We often talk about providing people with skills, knowledge and tools so they can improve their lives – but sometimes the impact is hard to quantify. So how does the fact that more than 90% of women’s businesses grew over the course of the Skilling for Change programme sound?

The Skilling for Change programme in Rwanda – a unique collaboration between CARE, Accenture and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women – aimed to support 15,000 women from CARE’s VSLA groups to secure long-term economic independence by providing them with the skills, knowledge and tools they need to turn their micro-enterprises into profitable and sustainable businesses.

By designing training that addressed the technical skills women in Rwanda wanted and needed, the Skilling for Change programme created high levels of positive impact in terms of improving women entrepreneurs’ financial management skills, business skills, and confidence. Here’s what we achieved:

Skilling for Change infographic

Benefits for women entrepreneurs

Not only did over 90% of women’s businesses grow over the course of the programme, but women also streamlined multiple businesses to focus on those that are most profitable.

The programme was also able to prove that providing intensive training for a select number of high-potential woman entrepreneurs was an effective approach to yield stronger levels of impact.

Benefits for families and communities

As the women became more economically empowered, their families and communities also benefited from the programme. As a result of increased and sustained household income and resources, they were able to access better healthcare and education, and women entrepreneurs shared their knowledge with their peers – which is something we encouraged through mentoring and networking activities.

Women also expressed increased confidence and engagement in decision-making in their households, particularly on financial management decisions. The approach used by CARE to engage men and boys throughout the programme to challenge deep-seated gender stereotypes contributed to this result and is a key learning for continuation in all our programmes.

The Skilling for Change project ended in September 2016. The final evaluation showed that the outcomes align with the findings and recommendations in the UN High Level Panel Report on Women’s Economic Empowerment – and suggest that there is still more to be done to accelerate this progress through more partnerships between NGOS, government and businesses.

Katherine Hughes

Katherine was formerly the Financial Inclusion Advisor for Asia at CARE International UK, providing technical advice, project management support, and monitoring and knowledge management support across several financial inclusion projects in Africa and Asia. She previously worked as a Programmes Officer for CARE International UK and in CARE Vietnam as Private Sector Engagement Officer.