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Entrepreneurial Training for Women

Improves refugee education by creating access to entrepreneurial training and financing for refugee women.

Photo of Alexandra Alden

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EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

This idea was generated during a HCD workshop with refugees and organization leaders held in March in Kakuma refugee camp by our Community Champions: Daniel Christian, Fartun Abass, Vestine Umubyeyi and Hassan Bashir. Faiza is typical of many refugee women who could be entrepreneurs given the proper training. The idea is to work with the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) to build out a curriculum of entrepreneurship targeted specifically at women who are homemakers. Through the curriculum they will learn the skills they need to start their own small business. Once having completed the program they will be eligible for microloans from LWFs livelihood program, which they can use to get their business off the ground. Faiza will then be able to have her own small business which will be added revenue for herself and her family.

WHO BENEFITS?

Women like Faiza who live in Kakuma, Kenya and who are homemakers with no access to outside streams of revenue would benefit.

PROTOTYPE

To test in one month you could: 1) Find women who have already received entrepreneurial training and hadn't started businesses. 2) Offer them microloans. 3) See how many took up the microloans and started a business. This way you could test whether access to finance was the barrier to business creation or if it was something else.

FEEDBACK

We will be taking the feedback shared here back to the community that originally conceived the idea and then refining it, so your comments are much appreciated in helping us develop the idea!

SKILL SHARE (optional)

Since we would be executing this in Kakuma we would want to work with UNHCR and LWF.

TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF

I work with OpenIDEO and have been working with the Community Champions who live in Kakuma to help them develop their ideas.

IS THIS AN IDEA THAT YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION WOULD LIKE TO TAKE FORWARD?

  • This idea is meant to inspire - I hope someone else takes it on.

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Loved the idea and have lots of material to contribute to help women become entrepreneurs. Would love to be a part of a program to teach entrepreneurial skills to refugee women and provide them with the tools to go from idea to reality.  http://www.essaymart.co.uk/

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Thinking more, I wonder if just financing in and of itself is enough. On-the-ground support, at least in the initial stages of business creation and then periodic ongoing check-ins and education would I think be essential to making these efforts sustainable and enriching. I'm thinking of Accion international - not only do they provide microloan financing but they support those investments with financial education, to help these often first-time business owners manage their money and business to be as effective as possible.
https://www.accion.org/clienteducation

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I think Anne-Laure (5/5 comment) identifies the biggest area for this idea to continue fleshing out - what are the methods for finding and identifying these women to support? It's a wonderful idea and relevant to the lives of many on the ground, but without a way to efficiently identify the targets of the support and training, could spend a lot of time spinning its wheels.

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Interesting idea and worth trying especially as it seems that it originated from your interactions with people in the field. I like the fact that you have a hypothesis to test regarding micro-loans, but I'm wondering if there are not many other questions to test before. For example: Who are these "women who have already received entrepreneurial training and hadn't started businesses."? Are they women who went through the training of LWF? Why do you think they did not ask for a micro-loan, esp. if they received entrepreneurial training? Is it because they did not know about it? lacked confidence? motivation? If it's because of lack of confidence and / or motivation, what could trigger this? would money (micro-loan) be enough?
Also in line with Les LaMotte's detailed feedback and questions, are some of these women already engaged in some specific activities that could be turned into an entrepreneurial venture. Do you have some insights on these activities?

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This is a great idea and I think it could work in several protracted refugee situations, especially if you work first with the women to know more about what skills they seek and develop a curriculum around that. I think especially in protracted situations, they need more skill-based training to redefine their future.

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Loved the idea and have lots of material to contribute to help women become entrepreneurs. Would love to be a part of a program to teach entrepreneurial skills to refugee women and provide them with the tools to go from idea to reality.

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Alexandra, It appears you have been on the ground with this and know the terrible conditions. The only comment I have for you is, are you just grasping at straws here and are there real services that these woman can do in what one at a time all on their own? The model I seek is a school (much to high) a meeting with the women and men and giving them several options. Provide the materials to do or make a particular product or service. Such as when I was in South Sudan, I noticed that the beef was terrible, dry and over cooked. However, if someone had a solar panel and a meat cutter and grinder to make hamburger they could mix some fat and meat together to get a texture and taste that would be more palatable and therefore have a corner on the entire market that did not or could not provide this new taste dish. So rather than giving them money or loans, provide them with the right equipment and training in how to use it, and how to market it. Also, as I intend to do, bring in rather inexpensively, solar wafers, and use their skills to assemble them and learn the basics of solar energy, and how to sell them. Now you are building real industry that can be sustainable as it produces products for a market that otherwise could not come to the country because of the 100% tariff charges to enter it. Leaving people to try to figure it all out on the first try is a bit much to ask refugees who are using most of their strength just to survive the PSD and eat and find fresh water or cook or make sure their families are taken care of. The pay back for the equipment could also be done through contracting with them to bring on others in to the business and eventually they become the trainers and sellers of the equipment. Otherwise, women will stick to close things that have to do with relationships only as that is their main motivation. They have to become familiar with a different style of thinking about work and find their value and feed their relationship building in a way that makes more money than they have expected in the past. They need motivation to be come more concerned for taking their talents and monitizing them and not only be happy with relationship building. Remember to work in the developing world you have to think totally different about the result and how it will look and give more attention to allowing the marginalized people how to use their talents and follow their motivations rather than try to fit into someone else ideas of what they should do. The heart is the source of motivation and until the heart feels results it cannot continue to build upon or see what they are doing as having any relavant future for themselves. When the heart is not right no one can get motivated to continue when things get hard and like an engine it has a heavy wheel that continues the motion when the engine struggles for only an instant, the fly wheel gives it the necessary continuing momentum so the engine doesn't stop all together. The biggest failure of people in business is not to see the results of business right. They look at the total sum of what they get as their own money to spend, which is possibly true as a normal person. However, the rule of thumb at least in the developed world is you must see the revenue you get as only 1/3 yours to take home. The other 1/3 has to go back into the business to allow it survive. The final 1/3 must to government or to helping your community to work, if the government is clearly not providing services. If they spend the entire amount they make then they have sealed the tomb of their business and it will cease to exist. It is like the farmer with his cow. If he makes his money on the milk, it continues to multiply each day. However, if the farmer looks at his cows and sees stakes and kills the cow he no longer has a golden goose that continues to produce day after day and there for building him wealth slowly but it will add up over time. Also, because of many who have grown up poor and suddenly they have some money, their mind wanders and takes over and they spend it with out regard for their future needs. The simple concept here is that the Young man or woman must make money for the old man and woman. This is not a clear issue in Africa because of the culture of taking care of your parents until they die. So rather than save money the rely on their many children to become successful to be their bank account for them and pay them in their old age. This is the root cause for basic poverty as in this day and age in other countries this has eventually gone away, and in Africa it is also going away as they send their children to the US or other countries and they become wealthy and have children, there remains no real incentive to go back home or take care of their parents and they are then without the means in their old age. This will only become more evident as these countries are forced to enter the 21st century and all that it offers or does not offer.

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Thanks for your sharing. I believe more detailed analysis in regard to what specific skills that the we target, especially in different context, the skills needed would be different.