Empowering Rural Women Entrepreneurs To Drive Change

Self Help AfricaEnterprise Development, Gender, News

Doris outside her hair salon

Doris Erdoo Apeverga outside her hair salon.

In a world facing persistent challenges like poverty, climate change, food insecurity, and inadequate healthcare, the impacts are most keenly felt by rural women. At Self Help Africa, we believe in harnessing the power of these women to lead the charge in transforming their communities. Our Rural Women Entrepreneurs (RWE) pilot, funded by GIZ and active in Nigeria, Kenya, and Malawi, exemplifies this vision by enhancing digital capabilities, health literacy, and economic independence through the establishment of Women’s Business Centres (WBCs).

In Nigeria, the WBCs have become hubs of innovation and resilience. Women are trained in producing and marketing “Tom Brown, a nutritious food supplement made from locally sourced ingredients like soya beans, millet, corn, and groundnuts. This product not only supports the health of young children and breastfeeding mothers but also stimulates local economies by utilizing community-produced ingredients, thereby reducing post-harvest losses and increasing the value of these staple products for farmers. Over 400 women across 20 WBCs have embraced this training, turning a traditional recipe into a thriving business venture.

Bridget from Kasev Mbaageh Association shares her journey: “The training here taught me how to engage customers and highlight the benefits of my products.” Beyond food production, women are exploring other entrepreneurial avenues such as hairdressing and creating hair care products, demonstrating their adaptability and business acumen.

Malawi’s success stories are equally inspiring. Stella, who started a business selling traditional chitenji clothing, now proudly states, “It’s given me a source of income so that I can pay school fees. I can even afford a new house. I’m more self-reliant now than I ever was.”

In just one year, our RWE project has supported nearly 2,000 women entrepreneurs across Kenya, Nigeria, and Malawi. We’ve established 90 Women’s Business Centres, fostering networks of women ready to launch new business ventures. With startup support and training in digital business strategies, these women are now adept at leveraging social media to trade their goods and services, bringing the digital marketplace to rural Africa.

The WBCs are more than just business incubators; they are vibrant communities offering social connections, savings opportunities, and vital healthcare and nutrition information. These centres are transforming lives, not just for the women involved, but for their families and communities at large.

By supporting Self Help Africa, you are investing in a future where rural women are at the forefront of economic and social change. These women are not just participants in development programs; they are leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs driving a brighter future for all.