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We are excited that one of our new ITL projects will be coming on board very soon, thanks to your generous support.

The project, Women’s Economic Empowerment and Leadership (WEEL) in Sierra Leone, aims to transform how poor rural women do business so that they have more financial control and influence in society.

Women in Sierra Leone face severe poverty and discrimination. In the rural labour force, women provide more than 60% of farm labour for food production, yet men possess greater access to ownership and control of the production, reducing women to marginal positions. However, four in five women in rural Sierra Leone run small scale businesses that could be the route to financial independence, if these businesses can be scaled. Access to finance and business knowledge are what holds women back. The WEEL project aims to bring both of these things to rural women so they can support themselves out of poverty.

Working with five partners, including a telecoms provider and commercial bank, we are bringing mobile digital banking to remote areas of Sierra Leone for the first time. Currently only 12.4% of adults in Sierra Leone having access to a bank account, with penetration in rural areas being particularly poor. Creative solutions which strengthen existing financial structures such as credit and savings unions and utilise technology such as mobile banking to maximum effect, offer an enticing approach to sustainably increase household incomes in rural areas.

Not only will solutions like this drive investment and entrepreneurship for women, they will also build the influence of women in society. Women who are economically empowered have better access to resources and control over decisions in their household and community. With training and mentorship in leadership and planning, women’s agency and confidence will be enhanced to take on leadership roles and responsibilities.


You can read more about the project on the fact sheet here.


Please join us in wishing the best of luck to our team in Sierra Leone as the make plans to start this project.