CAMFED Ghana’s education programs support girls and young women to find a pathway out of poverty for themselves and their families by addressing the unique challenges faced by those from marginalized rural backgrounds.
CAMFED’s interventions not only support marginalized children to access school and overcome the barriers that keep them from learning once they are in school, but also support them on the path to independent livelihoods after completing school by transitioning into further education, employment and entrepreneurship.
A key intervention that CAMFED is implementing in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation to see young people, particularly women, take up job and entrepreneurship opportunities is the Young Africa Works strategy. CAMFED will, over the next few years, equip 210,000 young people (girls and boys) with work-readiness skills, and directly enable 70,000 young people to secure dignified and fulfilling employment.
The anticipation is that the jobs created will be for women and all will be newly-created through young women’s entrepreneurship, adding to the pool of employment opportunities for Ghanaian youth.
Working with community and district-level champions and partners, CAMFED, in collaboration with the Ghana Enterprises Agency (formerly National Board for Small Scale Industries), in 2020 established District Business Committees (DBCs) to spearhead entrepreneurship interventions in operational districts in the Northern, North East, Savannah, Upper East, Upper West, Bono, Ashanti, Eastern, Western, Greater Accra and Central regions.
The five-member committees have been set up to assist in the smooth implementation of the entrepreneurship component of the Young Africa Works strategy and other related entrepreneurship interventions to enable young people to start and sustain their businesses, create jobs for themselves, and others, particularly young women.
Membership of the DBCs is voluntary, and the committee consists of representatives from a diverse range of organisations including the Ghana Enterprises Agency, District/Municipal/Metropolitan Assembly, an entrepreneur (preferably female), an advocate for gender or business/community leader, and a CAMFED District Programmes Coordinator. These members are selected to serve on the committee on the basis of their willingness to serve voluntarily, their integrity and the respect they command in the community, their passion and interest in advancing women’s entrepreneurship, as well as their work schedules and availability to be involved in committee activities.
Since their launch in May 2020, the DBCs have been assisting in the identification and selection of entrepreneurs requiring support, and supporting young women in their districts to establish and grow their businesses. They have also been visiting entrepreneurs to check on their businesses and offering advice and assistance. Some entrepreneurs have also been supported to access affordable loans and grants, while others have been assisted to register their businesses and acquire other relevant statutory certification.
In some cases, DBCs have used their knowledge of the district to build partnerships and create networks and opportunities for businesses to thrive. While discharging any other duties that will enable entrepreneurs to succeed, the DBCs submit period reports to CAMFED that feed into the overall implementation plan of the Young Africa Works strategy.
DBCs, through their engagements with entrepreneurs, have identified and made recommendations for resourcing the entrepreneurs with a range of business start-up kits and equipment, since the lack of equipment has been identified as one of the key constraints of young entrepreneurs.
As a result, CAMFED has provided over 6,000 young women entrepreneurs with start-up kits, specialist equipment and training, to enable them to launch or grow their businesses in 2021. The items distributed included display fridges, ovens, milling machines, juicers, car spraying machines, hairdryers, and textile and embroidery machines. The young women also received training in business management, packaging and branding, business registration and bookkeeping.
DBCs have also been leading on identifying and providing various forms of customised support to young rural women to start, sustain or grow their businesses. They are championing meetings with families and community stakeholders to help young women overcome gendered barriers to successful entrepreneurship, including access to land and other factors of production.
The work of DBCs as a district-level structure to spearhead entrepreneurship interventions is beginning to yield results. For instance, a survey of female growth entrepreneurs in Ghana (March 2021, n=911); found that, within around six months of receiving CAMFED’s Young Africa Works business growth support (a tailored mix ranging from finance, equipment, materials to support, encouragement and technical assistance), approximately 10% of supported entrepreneurs had already created new paid employment for others; despite the challenging COVID-19 context. They created an average of 3.3 new paid jobs each, translating into 293 new paid jobs.
A survey of young women supported to launch new businesses (May 2021, n=1,864) identified that 82% had succeeded in launching a business and creating a job for themselves with support from CAMFED, DBCs and the Mastercard Foundation Young Africa Works partnership.
CAMFED will continue to deepen engagement at the community and district levels through the DBCs to support young entrepreneurs to succeed. CAMFED partnership with the Ghana Enterprises Agency and the Mastercard Foundation is key to the success of this program, and CAMFED is looking forward to ever-deeper collaboration under Young Africa Works in Ghana, showing just what is possible when young women receive equitable access to training, support and resources to establish and lead rural businesses.
An entrepreneur (right) receiving a cereal mill during a kit/equipment distribution event
Learn, thrive and lead change
CAMFED is a pan-African movement, revolutionising how girls’ education is delivered. Through a gold-standard system of accountability to the young people and communities that it serves, it has created a model that radically improves girls’ prospects of becoming independent, influential women.
CAMFED’s impact increases exponentially through the Association of young women educated with CAMFED’s support. Together, they multiply the number of girls in school, and accelerate their transition to secure livelihoods and leadership.