CAMFED supports young women’s entrepreneurial ambitions with Scholars Entrepreneurship Fund

Camfed Ghana
Camfed Ghana

Providing opportunities for youth to create sustainable livelihoods for themselves has been a major challenge confronting many nations all over the world.

To address this challenge, successive governments in Ghana have designed and implemented various employment and entrepreneurship interventions.

Despite the good intentions, it is widely acknowledged that the government alone cannot address all the myriad of challenges confronting young people – the role and contribution of civil society and NGOs become important in complementing the efforts of the government.

Transition Program
In response to the need for the creation of employment and entrepreneurship pathways, CAMFED and its partners have been working with young women to forge innovative pathways to enable their successful transition from school to a secure position from which to make future choices.

CAMFED Ghana, in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, is implementing a transition program titled “Enable young women to transition from school to entrepreneurship, further study and transformative leadership in Ghana”.

The transition program aims to equip young women who complete secondary school with the knowledge and skills to make informed decisions, set them on the path to successful livelihoods, and connect them to accessible and affordable sources of capital and financial education to launch and grow their businesses.

The program is also designed to demonstrate to policy makers the positive impact of supporting educated young women during their transition to adulthood, empowering them to play active roles in local and national development.

Scholars who tread the path of entrepreneurship under the transition program are provided with training, start-up kits, internships, peer mentoring, and tailored business advisory support from the District Business Committees (DBCs), from successful CAMFED Association entrepreneurs, and other institutions.

In October this year, another cohort of secondary school leavers will benefit from a residential transition training program to provide them with the requisite information, knowledge and skills to make informed decisions on career pathways towards secured livelihoods.

Scholars Entrepreneurship Fund
CAMFED Ghana, in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, is ensuring that Scholars who tread the path of entrepreneurship are resourced financially to be able to start their businesses through a Scholars Entrepreneurship Fund (SEF). It is designed to provide funding to Scholars and alumni with viable, sustainable and scalable business ideas that also have a social impact.

Active since 2019, beneficiaries receive up to USD4,000 supplemental funding to start or scale their initiatives thereby positioning them as catalyzers of economic opportunities for others, while enabling them to become transformative leaders.

Given the limited job opportunities available to youth, CAMFED and the Foundation concluded that young people would need to create their own economic opportunities, while creating employment opportunities for others too.

The SEF responds to a need expressed by Scholars themselves, many of whom have innovative ideas, but face challenges in accessing funding.

The Fund links directly to the Young Africa Works strategy – the Foundation’s bold ambition to enable three million young Ghanaian women and men to access dignified and fulfilling work within the next 10 years.

The SEF provides financial support for new ideas and to scale up existing projects, facilitate opportunities for Scholars to give-back, and expand transformative leadership competencies.

It is also designed to serve as a ‘transition’ vehicle while providing economic opportunities for Scholars and others, especially women and young people.

The selection criteria and process have been documented and widely disseminated, and the 50 winners in the three selected cohorts (Cohort 1 -22; Cohort 2 – 16; Cohort 3 – 12) have been selected on project design, model and criteria established by CAMFED in consultation with the Scholars Council.

CAMFED and its partners have been providing support and guidance to winners for the duration of their project in order to optimize the success of their ventures. For instance, all winners were provided with training in entrepreneurship, product design, customer relations, pricing and marketing, financial management, intellectual property and pitching.

Beneficiaries also benefitted from study field trips to expose them to practical production and marketing knowledge and skills, in addition to financial (grant) support for business start-up.

The SEF intervention is beginning to yield results. For instance, a survey of SEF beneficiaries (March 2021, n=46); found that, 72% (33) are self-employed as a result of the support while the proportion of beneficiaries whose businesses are up and running and looking to expand is 85%.

The survey also reveals that 78% of the entrepreneurs or their businesses provided financial or material support to children or vulnerable adults in their communities while 44% provided direct cash or monetary support to vulnerable individuals in their communities due to the support received from the SEF program.

A majority (65%) of the entrepreneurs no longer depend on anyone for money or other basic necessities as a result of the SEF program while being able to cater for an average of three dependents.

The SEF program has had great influence on the living conditions and business lives of Scholar entrepreneurs. These effects range from financial independence, entrepreneurial leadership, business growth and social capital through networks.

CAMFED affirms its commitment to continue to work with partners, and indeed all like-minded organizations, to provide opportunities for young women to overcome the barriers confronting them. We will work towards Goals 4 (Quality Education) and 5 (Gender Equality) of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The life-changing impact of the SEF program demonstrate what is possible when young women receive equitable access to training, support and resources to establish and lead rural businesses.

SEF entrepreneur harvesting cotton wool from her farm

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 it serves, CAMFED 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.

Through the CAMFED Association, women are leading action on the big challenges their countries face – from child marriage, and girls’ exclusion from education, to climate change.

This unique pan-African network of teachers, nurses, doctors, sustainable agriculture experts and entrepreneurs now numbers 178,000, and is growing every year as more girls complete school and join them.

The collective efforts have already supported more than 4.8 million children to go to school across Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, and millions more students have benefited from an improved educational environment across our partner schools.

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