Promoting female participation in the Middle East
This ITL project in the West Bank and Lebanon, focused on the economic empowerment of Palestinian women. Of the women trained through this project approximately 60% are still in employment/running their own businesses.
One very memorable business venture was undertaken by Rawand. After attending training at the YWCA Jalazoune Refugee Camp Centre and receiving support to secure a loan from the bank, she opened her gym, Fitness First, in the ground floor of her home. That gym currently has 120 members, allowing Rawand to repay her loan and transforming her household income.
You may recall that the ITL project also helped to leverage a €1.5m from the EU to enable YWCA to build on this work. This grant enabled YWCA to work with 18 community-based organisations supporting thousands more women into the employment market or to set up their own business. It also supported work to enhance the confidence, capacity and leadership skills of beneficiaries.
In India we teamed up with solar lantern manufacturers D.Light to provide energy access to families in rural India. The solar lanterns distributed through the project have survived the test of time and the majority are still being used in various capacities by the communities. Over the years that followed the sector saw massive transformation.
Christian Aid focused on lobbying leaders and policymakers on energy policy to address equity issues. Following the examples of NGOs, companies who were working in the alternate energy sector started giving solar lighting products for free as part of their CSR work, further increasing access to energy.
On the national stage, the Indian Government’s rural electrification efforts intensified and as a result the target areas eventually got electricity. As of 2019, approximately 90% of villages in India have access to energy, an ongoing process to ensure energy access for all.
Inclusive value chains in Central America
As part of a wider programme supporting cooperatives across Central America, to access markets where they can trade their goods, the Hibiscus Cooperative in Nicaragua proved a great success, transforming the cooperative into a profitable, independent business with an international distribution network with Walmart.
As with all businesses, resilience in a changing market is a crucial asset. It is notable then that the cooperative has continued to operate effectively and to produce and manufacture hibiscus, amid a severe economic, social and political crisis and increased production costs caused by COVID-19.
They continue to operate and distribute hibiscus successfully within the local market and to their major international supplier, Walmart. This success has generated the interest from social impact investors, and they have received additional investment capital from the Shared Interest Society Ltd, an ethical investment cooperative.