In Photos: Women’s economic empowerment in action

Women's economic empowerment means that women have the knowledge, tools and opportunities to unlock their full potential to earn and save money.

CARE works with women—as well as many male allies, partners and community leaders—to provide training, networking, resources and more. Here are just a few of the amazing women we have had the privilege of working with and learning from over the years:

Fouzia Qazi owns a tourism business in Gilgit Baltistan in north Pakistan, as well as a second venture ‘Nature’s Best’ selling dried fruits, honey and oils. CARE’s Ignite program supports Fouzia to further develop her networks and skills. © 2021 CARE

Fouzia Qazi, Pakistan

In Pakistan, only 1% of women are engaged in entrepreneurial activities, as opposed to 21% of men, but Fouzia Qazi is blazing the way for other Pakistani women. Fouzia set up her tourism business in Gilgit Baltistan in north Pakistan and soon noticed that tourists were bringing back dried fruits from the north as a specialty gift. Spotting a new business opportunity, Fouzia established her second venture, Nature’s Best, selling dried fruits, honey and oils.

Fouzia and other entrepreneurs like her have been able to develop their networks and skills through CARE’s Ignite program, supported by the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth. The program, focused on growth-oriented entrepreneurs like Fouzia, works with local service providers to open up much-needed access to financial and digital resources, while building their business capacity and networks. Read more.

Photo: CARE Pakistan

<p>The corona outbreak has led to difficult times for many businesses around the world, the women in the VSLA Kyautatama Diya Mata in the city of Maradi being no exception. But the women has also been able to seize new opportunity in the midle of an pandemic. They are now generating a new income by producing soap and facemasks so people in the community can protect themselves from COVID-19.</p>  <p>&ldquo;COVID had closed doors for us, but it has also open others&rdquo;, says Aichatou Sitou, the president of the KIAOTATAMA DIYA MATA group in the Maradi.</p>  <p>&nbsp;</p>  <p><u>Transcript of interview with Nousseyba Mounirou (woman sitting in the middle)</u></p>  <p>My name is Nousseyba Mounirou, General Secretary Kyautatama Diya Mata Group</p>  <p>01&rsquo;12 &rsquo;- 01&rsquo;24&rsquo; &rsquo;: Before the the Corona Virus we already made this liquid soap, but with the arrival of Covid19 we ramped up production.</p>  <p>3&rsquo;06 &rsquo;&rsquo; - 3&rsquo;29 &rsquo;&rsquo;: Before the arrival of the corona virus, we produce 18 liters of liquid soap each week which we resell and if there are any left over we share it among ourselves.</p>  <p>3&rsquo;34 &rsquo;&rsquo; - 3&rsquo;47 &rsquo;&rsquo;: With corona, the production which was 18litres per week has increased to a production of 18litres five times a day (18lx5) or 90 liters per week</p>  <p>5&rsquo;20 &rsquo;&rsquo; - 5&rsquo;29 &rsquo;&rsquo;: We also sell to small traders and shopkeepers in the market</p>  <p>5&rsquo;29 &rsquo;&rsquo; - 5&rsquo;36 &rsquo;&rsquo;: But we also bring some home to place in front of our houses with the hand washing kit.</p>  <p>6&rsquo;18 &rsquo;&rsquo; - 6&rsquo;22 &rsquo;&rsquo;: So you can see that there has been a change as we no longer need to buy imported soap.</p>  <p>6&rsquo;29 &rsquo;&rsquo; - 6&rsquo;48 &rsquo;&rsquo;: Within the group itself we see the change, with the soap we earn a good income. So there has been progress.</p>  <p>7&#039;59 &rsquo;&rsquo; - 8&rsquo;30

Kyautatama Diya Mata savings group, Niger

The COVID-19 outbreak has led to difficult times for many businesses around the world, the women in the VSLA Kyautatama Diya Mata in the city of Maradi, Niger are no exception. But this resilient group of women have also been able to seize a new opportunity in the middle of the pandemic. They are now generating new income by producing soap and face masks so people in the community can protect themselves from COVID-19.

“COVID had closed doors for us, but it has also opened others,” says Aichatou Sitou, the president of the group.

Photo: Abdoulwahab Moustapha/CARE

<p style="margin-left:0cm;margin-right:0cm"><span style="font-size:11pt"><strong>Loujain, a Syrian refugee in Turkey, Encourages Children to Wear Masks</strong></span></p>  <p style="margin-left:0cm;margin-right:0cm"><span style="font-size:11pt">Like many mothers, Loujain was worried about her three daughters and wanted to protect them from COVID-19. One day, she thought of using her experience in printing to make masks with her daughters&rsquo; favorite cartoon characters, to encourage them to wear masks. &ldquo;My daughters loved the characters and started wearing their masks at every suitable opportunity. The idea became popular among my friends and I began receiving orders to produce customized masks,&rdquo; Loujain says.</span></p>  <p style="margin-left:0cm;margin-right:0cm"><span style="font-size:11pt">In a small room in her apartment with a computer, printing machines, and printed mementos, Loujain runs her printing business. When she studied English Literature in Syria to become a teacher, Loujain never imagined that she would run her own business as a refugee living in Turkey.</span></p>  <p style="margin-left:0cm;margin-right:0cm"><span style="font-size:11pt">Loujain made many friends and developed a wide network of relationships in the refugee community in Nizip, southern Turkey. This network helped her to volunteer with CARE as a Community Activator. Since becoming a Community Activator, Loujain has provided awareness sessions for women on protection topics, child labor, early marriage, and benefitting from CARE&rsquo;s legal consultation services in Turkey. Through her work, Loujain has become a mentor and role model to the women she supported.</span></p>  <p style="margin-left:0cm;margin-right:0cm"><span style="font-size:11pt">Four years ago, after her husband fell ill and had to stop working, Loujain started thinking of creative ways to support her husband and secure an income for her family. &ldquo;I thought of a business idea, where I could em
<p style="margin-left:0cm;margin-right:0cm"><span style="font-size:11pt"><strong>Loujain, a Syrian refugee in Turkey, Encourages Children to Wear Masks</strong></span></p>  <p style="margin-left:0cm;margin-right:0cm"><span style="font-size:11pt">Like many mothers, Loujain was worried about her three daughters and wanted to protect them from COVID-19. One day, she thought of using her experience in printing to make masks with her daughters&rsquo; favorite cartoon characters, to encourage them to wear masks. &ldquo;My daughters loved the characters and started wearing their masks at every suitable opportunity. The idea became popular among my friends and I began receiving orders to produce customized masks,&rdquo; Loujain says.</span></p>  <p style="margin-left:0cm;margin-right:0cm"><span style="font-size:11pt">In a small room in her apartment with a computer, printing machines, and printed mementos, Loujain runs her printing business. When she studied English Literature in Syria to become a teacher, Loujain never imagined that she would run her own business as a refugee living in Turkey.</span></p>  <p style="margin-left:0cm;margin-right:0cm"><span style="font-size:11pt">Loujain made many friends and developed a wide network of relationships in the refugee community in Nizip, southern Turkey. This network helped her to volunteer with CARE as a Community Activator. Since becoming a Community Activator, Loujain has provided awareness sessions for women on protection topics, child labor, early marriage, and benefitting from CARE&rsquo;s legal consultation services in Turkey. Through her work, Loujain has become a mentor and role model to the women she supported.</span></p>  <p style="margin-left:0cm;margin-right:0cm"><span style="font-size:11pt">Four years ago, after her husband fell ill and had to stop working, Loujain started thinking of creative ways to support her husband and secure an income for her family. &ldquo;I thought of a business idea, where I could em

Loujain, Turkey

Like many mothers, Loujain was worried about her three daughters and wanted to protect them from COVID-19. One day, she thought of using her experience in printing to make masks with her daughters’ favorite cartoon characters, to encourage them to wear masks.

In a small room in her apartment with a computer, printing machines, and printed mementos, Loujain runs her printing business. When she studied English Literature in Syria to become a teacher, Loujain never imagined that she would run her own business as a refugee living in Turkey.

Loujain made many friends and developed a wide network of relationships in the refugee community in Nizip, southern Turkey. This network encouraged her to volunteer with CARE as a Community Activator. Since becoming a Community Activator, Loujain has provided awareness sessions for women on protection topics, child labour, early marriage, and benefiting from CARE’s legal consultation services in Turkey. Through her work, Loujain has become a mentor and role model to the women she supported. Read more.

Photos: Tarek Satea/CARE

<p>As we enter Rosemonde&rsquo;s gateway we are greeted by bare-foot children, bleeting goats, fighting dogs and ducks chasing chickens. A veritable farmyard in the centre of one of Ivory Coast&rsquo;s largest cities, Bouake.&nbsp; Rosemonde steps forward amongst the chaos to greet us, a quiet confidence in her demeanour.</p>  <p>35-year-old Koffi Rosemonde grew up in extreme poverty. One of six children to a single mother, there was never enough food on the table and she never attended school.&nbsp; As she starts to explain her childhood she tries to remain positive, but quickly her eyes well up and she admits:&nbsp; &ldquo;My childhood was not easy.&nbsp; My mother had no money and my brother became a thief.&nbsp; One night he went out robbing and he was shot dead.&rdquo;&nbsp; She hopes for a better life for her own children.</p>  <p>As she starts to explain who all the children are, it becomes apparent that Rosemonde is financially responsible for seven children. Three from her husband&rsquo;s previous relationships, two of her own from a previous relationship and two with her husband, the youngest of whom is three.&nbsp; Guei, her oldest boy aged 13, plays an important role, fetching and carrying water and giving his youngest brother a bucket bath.&nbsp; He is shy to speak, but when he does he says: &ldquo;My mother works hard for her money. I am proud of her because she is strong and kind.&nbsp; Because of her, we have food on the table and we can go to school.&rdquo;</p>  <p>Rosemonde learnt to be entrepreneurial from a very young age. With no school to attend, she started to earn a living at the age of six when she went out selling oranges, sweets and eggs.&nbsp; It was this early experience of buying and selling that influenced what she was later to become.&nbsp; However, there were more challenges ahead as the country was plunged into an economic crisis, followed by two civil wars.&nbsp; With no education and no money, Rosemonde tried her hand at a variety

Rosemonde, Côte d'Ivoire

Rosemonde went to a meeting run by CARE where she discovered that being a successful business woman was a possibility for those with a good business idea. She received business training and was supported to develop a business plan. She was then given the opportunity to apply for a low-interest loan.

One of the biggest challenges for business women in Côte d'Ivoire is accessing finance. The interest rates are high and women often have no collateral to secure a loan.

CARE has worked tirelessly with one of the biggest microfinance providers in Ivory Coast to find a solution. This partnership has opened up new opportunities for women and in less than two years over 310 women entrepreneurs have secured loans to grow their businesses. With interest rates of 2% per month, compared to a national rate of up to 12% per month, taking out a business loan has become a reality for many women. The women are repaying their loans and the knock-on effect is clearly visible.

With her new loan, Rosemonde began to develop her chicken farming business. She adds: “It wasn’t easy starting my business, but I had to support my family. CARE encouraged me never to give up...I am so happy that I am now free to do what I want. I am so proud that I can take care of my family and my children.”

Photo: CARE Netherlands

<p style="margin-left:0cm;margin-right:0cm"><strong><span style="font-size:11pt">&ldquo;My message to all businesses around the world during COVID19 is to try to innovate and change the business model so they can have new products that can sell in this tough time.&rdquo; </span></strong></p>  <p style="margin-left:0cm;margin-right:0cm"><span style="font-size:11pt"><strong>Background: </strong></span></p>  <p style="margin-left:0cm;margin-right:0cm"><span style="font-size:11pt">Basma Nazer, 34, from Jordan runs a social enterprise &lsquo;Khoyoot&rsquo;, translating as Threads. Basma&rsquo;s Khoyoot Initiative <span style="background-color:white">creates partnerships with women in a refugee camp to produce hand embroidered products. Khoyoot provides refugee women with embroidery courses after which they start creating different product lines.&nbsp; The revenue from the sales of the products is then used to fund more courses and initiatives within the camp. Basma has challenged many social norms in the camp, changing </span>the women from being a financial burden to their families to a financial source of income. Through her enterprise, Basma is also employing women to coordinate and run the projects. Her work is very targeted and each of her five product lines tackle a specific issue &ndash; for example early marriage.&nbsp; The Initiative is now selling to fifteen countries worldwide.&nbsp; Basma received support from CARE as she grew her enterprise through CARE&rsquo;s Women in Enterprise programme, supported by H&amp;M Foundation.&nbsp; She benefited from business training, as well as a grant to channel into the training of the women refugees and materials for the embroidery.&nbsp; Basma was recently selected as a role model by CARE Jordan to tour the country and inspire other women who are thinking of setting up their own businesses.&nbsp; She has also won the Princess Basma Award for Social Work and the Crown Prince Foundation Prize for empowering women.&lt;/span

Basma Nazer, Jordan

“My message to all businesses around the world during COVID-19 is to try to innovate and change the business model so they can have new products that can sell in this tough time.”

Basma Nazer, 34, from Jordan runs a social enterprise ‘Khoyoot’, translating as threads. Basma’s Khoyoot Initiative creates partnerships with women in a refugee camp to produce hand embroidered products. Khoyoot provides refugee women with embroidery courses after which they start creating different product lines. The revenue from the sales of the products is then used to fund more courses and initiatives within the camp.

Basma has challenged many social norms in the camp, working to change stereotypes of women being seen as financial burdens to being breadwinners. Through her business, Basma is also employing women to coordinate and run the projects. Her work is very targeted and each of her five product lines tackle a specific issue–for example early marriage. The Khoyoot Initiative is now selling to fifteen countries worldwide.

Basma received support through CARE’s Women in Enterprise program, supported by the H&M Foundation, which provided business training, as well as a grant to channel into the training of the women and materials for the embroidery. Basma was recently selected as a role model by CARE Jordan to tour the country and inspire other women who are thinking of setting up their own businesses. She has also won the Princess Basma Award for Social Work and the Crown Prince Foundation Prize for empowering women.

Photo: CARE Netherlands

<p style="margin-left:0cm;margin-right:0cm"><span style="font-size:11pt">Nguyen Thi Hien from Hanoi is taking the business world by storm, despite her young age.&nbsp; Five years ago, at the age of only 21, Hien, together with her cousin, took over the family food business &lsquo;Truong Foods&rsquo; from her aunt. The family has been producing and trading specialist pork products for almost 20 years.</span></p>  <p style="margin-left:0cm;margin-right:0cm"><span style="font-size:11pt">Since taking over the business, Hien has established the business in both Phu Tho province and in the capital Hanoi.&nbsp; Between the two locations she now employs 15 office staff, as well as around 30 seasonal workers. </span></p>  <p style="margin-left:0cm;margin-right:0cm"><span style="font-size:11pt">As the new Managing Director, Hien decided to formalize the business, she explains: &ldquo;Shifting from a household business model into a formal enterprise was the first barrier I had to overcome. We had to change our business activities to comply with the Government&rsquo;s regulations. Moreover, all procedures, such as human resources management and business operations, were subject to a total change, and we had to start from the beginning.&rdquo;</span></p>  <p style="margin-left:0cm;margin-right:0cm"><span style="font-size:11pt">Hien also wanted to increase production so that they could diversify and expand their reach beyond the local market.&nbsp; Hien adds: &ldquo;When taking over the business I had to find ways to distribute more products to outside markets, while competing with other brands and products.&rdquo; Hien found it a challenge to be a woman selling products targeted at male customers, adding: &ldquo;Our products are targeted at beer shops and restaurants whose customers are mostly men.&rdquo;</span></p>  <p style="margin-left:0cm;margin-right:0cm"><span style="font-size:11pt">Whilst Vietnam is moving towards a more gender equal society and there is now less pre

Nguyen Thi Hien, Vietnam

Nguyen Thi Hien from Hanoi is taking the business world by storm, despite her young age. Five years ago, at the age of only 21, Hien, together with her cousin, took over the family food business ‘Truong Foods’ from her aunt. The family has been producing and trading specialist pork products for almost 20 years.

Like so many, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a big blow to Hien’s business.

Through CARE’s Ignite program, supported by the Mastercard Centre for Inclusive Growth, Hien and many other Vietnamese entrepreneurs like her, have new opportunities to grow their businesses through increased access to capital for entrepreneurs, as well as access to skills development, including building on much-needed digital skills.

Hien’s energy and passion for her family business seems unstoppable: “We are very proud of our products which have been handed down from our ancestors. My ambition is to complete the procedures needed to meet international standards, so that they are truly ‘Made in Vietnam’. Then we can bring this fermented pork product to all Vietnamese people and our international friends around the world.”

She concludes: “As women, we have to work harder. Yet when we do, we will love this life more and become more independent.”

Photo: Tran Bao Ngoc Anh/CARE Vietnam