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Young Women Social-Economic Empowerment

Value Girls Program was initiated with the main objective of improving the social-economic welfare of girls and young women between the ages of 14-24 years by strengthening their participation in business sectors (value chains) that have a potential for higher returns or profits.

Many girls and young women around Lake Victoria region live under conditions of extreme socio-economic deprivation and are surrounded by cultural environments that do not protect them and instead appear to sanction their exploitation and abuse.

How the Program Works

VGP is funded by the Nike Foundation and USAID. It is being implemented by Cardno Emerging Markets USA, Ltd in Nyanza and Western provinces under its Kenya Business Development Services Program, a locally registered NGO. Kenya BDS sub Contracts other local organizations, called facilitators implements the program on the ground. InCHeS is such a facilitator working in all the program sites undertaking  different roles. 

The Program Activities iclude:

  • Trainings
  • Savings and Loanings
  • Business enterprises skills
  • Linkages to Financial Insitutions Service providers
  • Marketing

How did you use the HCD Toolkit and / or human-centered design as part of the project?

The program undertook an in depth situation analysis and assessment of the Omena and Tilapia value chains with a young woman’s lens. The results of this analysis was been used to develop a Value Chain approach program without causing additional harm and increasing risks to the girls, the lake, and its fisheries resources in general. 

The Program has therefore revised its strategy to support the young women to explore and undertake alternative livelihood options away from the fish sectors and is now focusing its effort in the vegetable and poultry value chains.

The design of the program focused on intervention parameters aimed at address specific challenges the target group faces. For example capacity building on  requisite skills in crop and poultry management and business management skills, enabling  have limited access to finance institutions, linkages and marketing. 

What was the biggest challenge that the project faced? Did you overcome it?

The main challenges faced are: Lack the requisite skills in crop and poultry management and business management skills; limited access to finance to invest in their start up and operational capital; and lack ownership and access to land, as a result of a largely patriarchal system of land ownership. Others are:

  • High dependency mentality
  • Slow adoption of new ideas
  • Low income

To a large extent, we the program has successful developed strategies to overcome the challenges. In addition to the human centered design above, other activities are:

i)                    recruitment and mobilization of the young women;

 ii) Organizing girls and young women into learning and production groups;

 iii) Registering their groups with the local government;

iv) Training them in group enterprise and financial literacy training;

 iv) Mobilizing savings; v) training them in better poultry and vegetable husbandry techniques; and

vi) Linking them to a variety of markets and other business support services.

What is (or will be) the impact of your project?

 The program has successfully reached 1400 young women. The number is expected to reach 2000 by August 2012. the program has and expects to:

  • Increase number of young women that are organized into strong autonomous producer groups.
  • Increase skills among the young women on how to effectively manage their groups to achieve positive business results.
  • Increase skills among the young women, in production as well as business management and market linkage development
  • Improve market positioning of the young women producers by having the quantity, quality, and types of products that multiple buyers demand.
  • Increase incomes through more efficient supply chains.

Discuss this Story

Matt Taylor

I'd really like to know more about the "situation analysis and assessment." What kind of research did you do in advance? It seems like there are a lot of lessons learned already in this project, but I'm a little confused has to how it's human-centered.

Can you elaborate a bit more on your techniques? How did you come up with the needs and goals?

Sydney Malawer

I would absolutely love to hear more about the strategies you developed to overcome the patriarchal system of land ownership. It's an issue that persists in many developing countries that are looking to bring economic empowerment and literacy to women, and has proven to be a deal breaker for many. Any learnings you could share would be extremely beneficial for everyone!