Approximately 90% of the participants in our vocational and entrepreneurship training courses are women. Most of them start a business after graduation but, similar to many other women in Liberia, they find themselves facing challenges. In addition to the lack of funding for their business, these challenges include sexual and gender-based violence, parenting problems, health, and how to be leaders in their communities.
For this reason, Mineke Foundation organized and hosted monthly Women’s Club meetings for women who had participated in our vocational training courses. Club meetings focused on women’s health, financial literacy and women’s rights, with a special focus on violence against women.
We worked with partners including Ministry of Health, Ministry of Gender, local NGOs SHIFSD and P-PAL, as well as the district health officers to facilitate educational workshops for our women. We also encouraged the club members to start a Savings & Loans program so that they would learn how to save and could also give micro loans to each other.
In addition to the Savings & Loans program, the Women’s Club initiated additional joint savings activities (susus) to save for items including furniture. They also started a Give and Take susu to provide a social security net for women in need. Members of the Give and Take susu save a small amount every month. And every month, the total amount is donated to 2 or 3 members who are in need. Members decide the recipients each month.
We carried out this project from 2015 through 2020 until Covid-19 forced us to stop. In 2020, in close collaboration with the Women’s Cub leadership, we transformed this project to focus mainly on building business skills and providing micro loans. This means that as of 2021 the following activities will continue:
- Savings & Loans scheme
- Give and Take susu
- Other susus as the club members see fit
- Mineke Foundation Micro Loan Fund
- Business skills training & financial literacy
This means that our Women’s Club will continue, but will focus solely on strengthening female entrepreneurship.