Amount received: $30,332.78 CAD
In Uganda, as few as 1-in-3 girls attend secondary school. This statistic becomes even starker taking only women living in rural areas into account. Without some degree of higher education, many of these girls will work physical labour and eventually be married off for their families gain. To avoid such a fate in a male-dominated society, education is absolutely critical to give girls a leg-up and shift the gender balance. With one of the highest population growth rates in the world, Uganda has more girls & women with more to lose than ever before.
Founded in 2004, BeadforLife (BFL) works to improve these statistics in several unique ways. The organization takes in at-risk girls and gives them the opportunity to become financially independent by providing the materials, means, and business know-how to design, create, and sell their very own paper-based jewelry. Participants in this program learn:
- Finding capital and starting small
- Market research
- Business planning
- Tools to grow customer base
- Money management
One of BFL’s more popular programs is the Street Business School (SBS). In this program, entrepreneurial workshops are held inside mobile classrooms meeting women in their own communities. This approach helps minimizing what would amount to significant travel time, as well as the associated health risks with on-foot commutes which cover vast distances, as is often the case throughout sub-Saharan Africa.
To carry out the scaleable program, CAF Canada and BFL have developed an innovative social franchise structure in which various on-the-ground NGO partner organizations were trained on implementing the SBS program in their local communities. The training encompassed an eight-day immersion workshop for two NGO employees, six-months mentorship and consultative support. All the curriculum and resources needed for implementation, metrics and evaluations tools, and a co-branded toolkit were provided.
Eighteen year old and mother of two, Florence Wanyana, was eager to join the Street Business School when she heard the recruiting announcement made in her community. While Florence already had a modest income selling fish in her village of Bulenga, Street Business School taught her the importance of diversifying her offerings and securing more than one income stream. As a result, her overall income increased each month, allowing her to better care for her two children.
Another Bead for Life program—Girls Ed—has provided boarding school scholarships to promising pupils whose families cannot afford to send them to secondary school. There are several benefits to boarding school beyond the educational aspect. It eliminates the long-distance commute, which often risks the pupils’ safety and consumes unproportional amounts of time and energy. Furthermore, the girls have access to electricity at boarding school, enabling them to study at night without the use of candlelight. Studies have also shown that for every year of education, a girl’s income will increase by as much as 10-25%.
Achieving security, financial stability, and autonomy for girls in rural Africa can, for many, only be unlocked by providing educational opportunities which accommodate to the geographic and cultural boundaries of the region. With organizations such as BeadForLife and scalable projects like the Street Business School and Girls Ed programs, the future is bright.