As we continue to raise support for Thriving Kids Africa, we want to highlight one way these effective programs are changing the lives of 15,000 children and their family members: Microenterprise.
What is a microenterprise? It’s a small business run by one person with a limited number of employees. These small ventures make up a large percentage of businesses in Africa, and they are potential paths out of poverty for many families. But African women who want to start their own microenterprises face significant challenges.
In many African countries, women have limited rights to own property and open bank accounts on their own. Cultural expectations can be a hindrance, especially in rural areas, where women are often expected to rely on their husband or extended family for support instead of going into business for themselves. If a woman does succeed in launching a start-up, lack of information, mentorship and/or training can limit her ability to choose more profitable business models or expand their ventures.
Even though there are currently more female entrepreneurs in Africa than their male counterparts, studies show that female business owners have access to just ⅙ of the capital male business owners do. And those woman-owned enterprises’ profits are 38 percent lower than those owned by men!
Helping female entrepreneurs access business training, finance programs, technology and social support systems can help them overcome these barriers—and lift their families out of poverty.
Thriving Kids Africa is funding two microenterprise projects that offer essential economic and spiritual support.
In Malawi, our partner Ambuya Development Center is ministering to women in the village of Thanganyika. They estimate 60 percent of women there are the sole providers for their families because of their husband’s neglect. Cross International donors help those women learn entrepreneurial skills and join an empowering network of female business owners. The program gives these women access to a two-year cycle of microloans that give them the capital they need to start a new microenterprise. This support helps women in rural Malawi, feed their families, send their children to school, leave abusive marriages and ultimately escape poverty.
In Zambia, our partner Kachere Development Program brings together female heads of households into self-help groups where women can brainstorm solutions to their community’s social and economic issues. They also gain the profitability training they need to grow their small businesses along with access to three rounds of low-interest microloans, which the group self-manages. The generosity of Cross International givers makes it possible for these women to care for their families and better their communities. Nutrition, education, safe housing, medical care: All of this becomes possible with microenterprise support.