In Photos: Women’s economic empowerment in action
Jul 29, 2021
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, 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
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
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
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
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
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