Africa's New Entrepreneurs
A New Program Helps Female High School Graduates in Rural Zambia Transition from School to Work
Camfed (the Campaign for Female Education) fights poverty and HIV/AIDS in Africa by educating girls and investing in economic and leadership opportunities for young women. Their Leadership and Enterprise Program in rural Zambia trains high school graduates in core business and problem-solving skills, and prepares them to launch their own strong, sustainable enterprises.
The program, funded by the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women initiative and designed by Camfed and University of Cambridge, helps vulnerable young women who are at a critical juncture in their lives -- leaving high school and facing a stagnant rural economy where 81 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day, and 50 percent of the population is unemployed. For young women, this lack of opportunity too often leads to early marriage, early pregnancy and HIV/AIDS.
The Leadership and Enterprise Training Program launched in December 2008, with 150 young women, and is now in its second year. All of the participants have known great hardship in their lives. Many lost parents at an early age. Some were raised by elderly grandparents who were too frail to work, or by parents who struggled to support five or six children on the meager wages of subsistence farming. The young women in the program grew up in communities with high rates of HIV/AIDS and low rates of employment.
By teaching young women like Ng'andwe and Penelope skills in entrepreneurship, management, marketing, problem-solving, and information technology, the Program prepares them to create their own opportunities, and equips them to turn those opportunities into long-term, sustainable endeavors.
Today, Penelope is using her IT training to run a new computer resource center in rural Zambia, where she is introducing hundreds of girls and women to technology; and Ng'andwe is studying to become a social worker. They epitomize the untold potential of millions of young women in rural Africa. The goal of the Leadership and Enterprise Training Program is to give these young women the tools to unlock that potential, and to forge futures of promise.