Resonate uses storytelling to empower women and girls to build self-confidence and unlock leadership potential. Our core training program, Storytelling for Leadership, harnesses the power of personal stories to communicate values and skills, and inspire the support of others in a professional setting, in a business endeavor, or a community initiative. With support from Ideo, we plan to develop a collaborative leadership program for male participants. The program will complement our work with women and engage both genders to create comprehensive and lasting change. Resonate will teach critical soft skills – self-confidence, public speaking, decision-making, and leadership – to women and men, while sensitizing both genders to the importance of gender-equality.
The program is a three-day course designed to run with a group of men and a group of women concurrently. The main objectives of the course are a) to develop soft skills necessary for employment and entrepreneurship and b) engage both genders in creating an inclusive business environment. Over the three days participants will develop a story of self that shows their personal values, learn critical self-presentation and workforce readiness skills, and discuss how they can best support business leaders of any gender. After two days of working separately, groups will come together for a final day of sharing lessons learned and listening to each others’ experiences.
Soft skills are a critical and often overlooked component of job training in East Africa. Skills training can go a long way to improving opportunity, yet especially among women, in order to truly drive development and close wage and unemployment gaps, women need self-confidence and community support to turn opportunity into action.
Research shows that women-led businesses outperform those with no female leaders, but they are comparatively fewer because of gender inequality and the barriers that women face. Studies show that women’s economic empowerment changes the dynamics of their household and engenders complex and emotional reactions from men.
Pilot studies carried out by CARE in Rwanda (2013) state that women need to be supported by improved and better programming which engages with men in deliberate and structured ways - something we’ve recognized over three years of our own work with women in Rwanda.
Resonate’s men engagement program is designed to address these issues, focusing specifically on young women and men as future business leaders. A study by Catalyst shows that men who are exposed to examples of female leaders are 23% more likely to support gender equality, while according to UNFPA, young men are more receptive to the concept of gender equality than older men. Encouraging young men to be more attuned to and supportive of women leaders is an important step to creating gender equality, improving the business environment, and creating more employment opportunities for youth in Rwanda and East Africa.
Our program is targeted at underserved Rwanda youth between the ages of 15 to 35 who are recent high school graduates or participating in a vocational skill building programs. We will work through partner organizations such as the Imbuto Foundation, Inkomoko, and our network of more than 30 partner organizations in Rwanda to engage young women and men. During the initial 3 month pilot period we will work with 300 men and women to build their individual skills and their collective ability to increase opportunity for employment and economic empowerment. With Ideo’s help we will test and iterate on this idea, and learn valuable lessons about how to best design the program for maximum impact and scale.
Youth participants will benefit from soft skills training for employment and entrepreneurship opportunities, identifying their own values and developing their personal story. Young men will have the opportunity to learn from and listen to their female colleagues, and build a model for and understanding of the benefits of a gender-inclusive business environment. The young women we work with will receive the training Resonate has developed over three years of delivery in East Africa, building their self-confidence and unlocking their leadership potential. By engaging both men and women in collaborative and mutually supportive leadership initiatives, we expect to benefit Rwandan communities as a whole.
Resonate is a nonprofit social enterprise that has been providing leadership training to women in East Africa for three years. Our training draws on the powerful tool of storytelling to build capacity for leadership and action through increasing self-confidence, public speaking skills, decision-making ability, and leadership roles.
Through Low-cost, light-touch leadership training we have seen women accomplish incredible things. Trained entrepreneurs actually take out loans and open businesses. Aspiring community leaders run for and are elected to village council. Bright young graduates put themselves forward to find new professional and academic opportunities. These women have what it takes to drive economic and social change – they just need to confidence to get started.
This confidence gap is pervasive globally, including in East Africa. We have seen huge jumps in confidence and leadership among our 2,500 program alumnae and wish to scale our intervention to reach more women and girls within Rwanda and throughout East Africa.
Resonate has delivered leadership trainings in all regions of Rwanda, as well as conducting training in Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda. Our curriculum is rooted in community organization and has been adapted to suit the East African context. In our experience with more than 50 partner organizations, we have seen that there is a clear market need and social need to engage men in women’s leadership programming. In order to both broaden and deepen our impact we are building a program that also provides soft skills and leadership training to men, while improving the business environment and chances of economic success for both genders.