Through the provision of hands-on training across a range of technical and business skills, Plan International Ireland’s Women’s Innovation Fund has replicated the successes made here at home across the developing world, by training and supporting women, thus achieving real business results.
Through the Women’s Innovation Fund, 8,100 women from Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka and Guinea Bissau have received business training and have set up their own micro-enterprises.
“If you want to make life better for a community, you should start by investing in its women and girls. A universal desire is to bring every good thing to our kids. Women tend to spend their resources on their families—prioritising things like healthcare, nutritious food, education, and all the building blocks of a thriving society. When we invest in women, we invest in the people who invest in everyone else. So when we match their commitment with our own, great things are possible.
It’s not enough to just talk about women and girls. We have to be willing to stand up and say, ‘I’m willing to fund some of these things.”
“At this point in my life, I virtually begged for food. My children were always hungry and I could not do anything because I was alone and I had no plan. Can you imagine that?
I had lost hope and self-esteem, but the Village Savings and Loans (VSL) group brought hope back. Now I am a business woman – how good does this sound when I say it?
After Plan explained the benefits of the VSL to me, I became interested and attended the first meeting. I met other women in my vicinity that I did not know before. Together, we developed unity and solidarity.
Our group members received training for business. I learned to save, organise my finances and make my money work for me.
I took a loan of €40 – It was the first time I had held that kind of money in my life. I used it to buy a bag of rice, 5 gallons of palm oil and other cooking equipment and I started to sell rice meals by the street.
With more profit coming in, I made monthly contributions to my group’s saving plan. There were tears of joy in my eyes when I went to the meetings. Now my children are healthy and in school.
The changes that happened to me are visible. I can walk with my head high in my community. The VSLA group made me an independent, self-reliant woman.
A business woman.”
**Rosa’s name has been changed to protect her identity.