A comprehensive programme to promote women’s literacy, business skills, entrepreneurship and savings, is transforming the lives of over 20,000 rural women in Liberia….

Tina heard about literacy classes being offered in five communities, including Greenville, by the UN Women-led Joint Programme on Gender Equality and Women’s Economic Empowerment (JP GEWEE). She joined the classes and continued on to take business management courses facilitated by Educare, one of UN Women’s partners.

“Reading and writing were difficult things for me, so I used to do all my calculations in my head and with my fingers. I wanted to go to school to be able to read and write, and be able to put some of my plans on paper.”Tina was not alone. Through a comprehensive approach to building women’s entrepreneurship and creating an environment which enables women to empower themselves, this programme has been able to transform the lives of over 20,000 Liberian women like Tina since 2009.

“A multi-sectoral and holistic approach to the economic empowerment of women has created the space for rural women to develop their potential as economic actors and gain greater recognition for their contributions to driving the economy in Liberia,” says Sheelagh Kathy Mangones, UN Women Representative in Liberia.

For Tina, the business class exposed her to management strategies and skills that helped improve her business. She learned budgeting skills, including how to save a small percentage of the profit for emergencies.

Eventually, Tina’s savings grew and she was able to travel to Guinea, a neighbouring country, for new goods to sell. She expanded her inventory, and bought bags of dried pepper and other agricultural produce to trade. Her income grew immensely, as did her savings, and she joined the savings and loan training class of the JP GEWEE programme. Upon completion, she became part of the Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) of the Association of Women in Cross-Border Trade, where her savings improved, and could soon take bigger loans.

“The Village Savings and Loan Associations give the opportunity to rural women to build their financial security and therefore be more empowered to continue moving forward autonomously,” says Deola Famak, of Educare.

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Photo credit: Photo: UN Women/Arwen Kidd