Happy Mother’s Day!
This Mother’s Day, we’re thinking especially about the moms who belong to the two Savings and Entrepreneurship Groups in Bekoji, Ethiopia, set up by our partner, the Girls Gotta Run Foundation. These women are the mothers of the girls in the GGRF Athletic Scholars programme* (proudly supported by us since 2013!)
The Savings groups for mothers were started in 2016 as a complement to the athletic scholarships, and are meant to be an inclusive, and community-based approach to confronting some of the broader cultural barriers and gender discrimination faced by women and girls in Ethiopia. Since many women cannot discuss or participate in financial decisions in their families, these groups offer a safe space for such discussions, and a means of learning how to start and grow small businesses to become financially resilient.
Each group consists of 20 members who meet once a week and encourage each other to save a specific sum of money both as ‘regular’ and ‘social’ savings. These are then used in small micro-credit schemes for individual members. Regular savings can be borrowed against for their personal business or family needs, while social savings (a smaller sum than regular) are pooled and used to help one another pay for various community/family affairs such as weddings, bereavements, and other social occasions.
Since they first got together, all the women say they have formed strong bonds with each other, changed their attitudes towards saving money, and learned important skills such as cash management, budgeting and book-keeping which have helped to improve their livelihoods. They are now able to provide daily meals for their families and can afford to send their children to school, where in the past they couldn’t.
In 2018, one of the groups (Tigil Fire) hopes to launch something new – a group shop, where together, members can sell their homemade products such as traditional alcohol, baskets, grains, spices, and injera. At present, on their own, they are only able to sell their products at the market twice a week. The group shop will allow them to collectively do this every day instead, and therefore significantly boost their income. The success of the Savings Group mothers has attracted support from the local authorities who are providing free space for the shop right in the center of town.
Watch this short video about the Savings Group Mothers (courtesy of GGRF).
A portion of the funds raised by Good for Girls in 2018 will go towards supporting the efforts of the Savings Groups.
*In 2015, GGRF started an Athletic Scholarship programme in Bekoji where girls participate on a running team, and complete a life skills and leadership curriculum. The median marriage age in Bekoji is 15, so adolescent girls are especially vulnerable to being taken out of school and married off. The scholarships help remove financial pressures on families and encourage more positive attitudes towards girls’ education and delayed marriage. The girls complete the program after 3 years armed with skills and knowledge to better tackle challenges they may face as they grow into adults.