Sub-Saharan Africa

A Ugandan Refugee Camp Hosts Potential for Financial Inclusion

August 05, 2019 by Lauren Henricks, Executive Vice President, Grameen Foundation

The Bidi Bidi refugee camp, in northwestern Uganda, is the largest refugee settlement in the country, and the second-largest refugee camp in the world, hosting 220,000 refugees who have fled the devastation and humanitarian crisis of the protracted civil war in South Sudan. In contrast to long-established refugee settlements elsewhere in the country, the inhabitants of Bidi Bidi are newcomers: all of them have arrived since the 2016 “July Crisis” in South Sudan.

Because of the long-term stability, favorable policy and social environment, and freedom of movement in Uganda, the majority of refugees in more established camps are either already engaging in small businesses or would like to start one (a recent World Bank study cited that 72 percent of refugees are operating some sort of micro or agri-business.) But at Bidi Bidi, the relationships and arrangements among people that create an active economy have not had time to develop, and economic activity remains low. These refugees arrived with literally just the clothes on their back and the few assets they could carry, and are to a greater extent than most refugees in Uganda, still struggling to establish themselves and supplement the limited support NGOs and the UN can provide.

Building Resilience in Burkina Faso: Longitudinal Assessment Results

The Building the Resilience of Vulnerable Communities in Burkina Faso (BRB) project leveraged women’s savings groups as a platform to provide complementary services in nutrition and agricultural education, access to agricultural extension support, linkages to formal agricultural and micro-business financing, and gender dialogues with the aim of improving household resilience. A mixed-methods, longitudinal quasi-experimental research design implemented between 2016 and 2018 found that BRB participants experienced improved food security, dietary diversity, self-perceived resilience and sustained savings accumulation despite an economic downturn experienced in 2017 due to a drought and subsequent poor harvests. Women reported increases in the implementation of new income-generating activities, earned income, the adoption of climate-smart agricultural techniques and improvements in harvest production as a result of the project interventions. There were mixed outcomes in social norms related to decision-making power, fear of spouse, and confidence in speaking out in mixed-gender forums. Despite the inherent difficulty in measuring changes in resilience, the research supporting the BRB project suggests a sense of “bouncing back” among the treatment group after the 2017 drought in Burkina Faso compared to the comparison group.

Women’s Savings Groups for Better Reproductive Health in Bénin

The Grameen Foundation program, “Women’s Savings Groups for Better Reproductive Health in Bénin” advanced opportunities for rural women and their husbands to make choices about reproductive health that best fit their individual and family needs. It built on “Healthy Savings,” an earlier program by Freedom from Hunger (now part of Grameen Foundation). The Reproductive Health program worked with women’s savings groups to combine health savings with access to family planning education and linkages to health providers.  The program served 11,590 women in 516 savings groups. Gender Dialogues--facilitated conversations about family planning—engaged husbands and partners in discussion, leading to greater joint decision-making among women and men in planning families and choosing birth control.

An entrepreneur by any other name

March 15, 2019 by Mary Vail, MBA

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines entrepreneur as one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise. As an entrepreneur, I can appreciate how others seek to find success in operating their own business. And I am often amazed at the challenges some must overcome to ensure their business thrives.

Edabié Kanzar

Breaking ground as a new kind of entrepreneur

Social outcast. Determined fighter. Successful businesswoman. It’s been an incredible journey for Edabié Charlotte Kanzar.

Edabié experienced extreme poverty throughout her youth in rural Burkina Faso. “No money to buy the soap. No money to buy clothes,” she recounts. Other villagers taunted her for her poor hygiene and ragged clothes. Married while still a girl, she heard mocking voices call out “goat-wife,” alluding to the smell of a goat.

Martha Addai

Breaking ground as a new kind of entrepreneur

Martha didn’t plan to become a cocoa farmer.  She wanted an office job. But when her parents could not afford to pay school fees beyond junior high, she chose the family business.

For several years, she worked alongside her parents, and later her husband, to build a thriving business. Her husband’s death after a decade of marriage was a tough blow, but she pushed on, determined to build a strong future for their five children.  She now runs the farm on her own with the help of seasonal laborers.

Digital Farmer Profiles: Reimagining Smallholder Agriculture

Mobile technology, remote-sensing data, and big data are opening opportunities to integrate the world’s 500 million smallholder farmers into the broader agri-food system. In this report, Grameen Foundation, on behalf of Digital Development for Feed the Future analyzes current practices and new opportunities to bring fragmented data, technology, resources, and service providers together to support the farmer ecosystem—with the potential of bringing about another agricultural revolution. 

Healthy Savings for Better Reproductive Health in Bénin: Client Outcomes Study Baseline Report

Unmet demand for family planning in Bénin is acute.  Grameen Foundation, in partnership with two local non-governmental organization (NGO) partners in Bénin—APHEDD (Association pour la Promotion de l’Homme, la Protection de l’Environnement pour un Développement Durable and FADeC (Femmes Actrices de Développement Communautaire)— is working to integrate family planning support into APHEDD and FADeC’s existing Savings Group programs, in a new project called Women’s Savings Groups for Better Reproductive Health in Bénin which seeks to advance opportunities for rural women and...

Impact: Savings Groups for Reproductive Health in Bénin

Women’s Savings Groups for Better Reproductive Health in Bénin has delivered family planning education to women in hundreds of savings groups in the country’s southern region. It builds upon a savings program that has enabled thousands of women to save for health-related issues. See how the project has empowered women to take care of their own and their families’ health. Watch for additional impacts on empowering rural women and men to make thoughtful and informed decisions regarding planning their families.