We’re supporting Mothers’ cooperatives – which are a proven method of combating household poverty, in the Zambian capital Lusaka.
Helping impoverished families to provide for themselves
Three quarters of Zambia’s population are estimated to live below the international poverty line of $1.25 a day. This poverty pushes children from poor families onto the streets. Here in Zambia, the number of street children has been increasing over the last 20 years because children have been orphaned by AIDS. Once children run away (or are thrown out) to the streets, the dangers to their health, welfare and education are serious.
The most effective solution is to support children and their families before they’re lost to life on the streets. Most families desperately want to provide for their children, give them a better life and make sure they get a proper education. But they themselves lack the education or skills that enable them to earn enough money to support their family with the basic necessities like food, clothing and access to an education.
What we’re doing
Our ‘Hand-in-Hand’ project prevents ‘at risk’ children from turning to the streets, by supporting Mothers’ cooperatives in Lusaka, the capital and largest city.
Our highly successful model works as follows:
- Vulnerable mothers are encouraged to form self-help groups in their communities. Members receive financial management and business skills training from local staff. The staff monitor their progress and help mothers use their profits to provide for their children. Members learn skills in household management, gardening, family nutrition and hygiene.
- Each week, each group member pays approximately £2 into a general pot, which also contains ‘seed money’ that we’ve contributed to help get each scheme off the ground. The general pot is split between group members, usually as capital for small businesses. The loan is then repaid with interest back into the general pot.
- The process rotates amongst all the group members until everyone has received a loan. After six months the balance is divided equally between the 25 members and the process repeats.
This intervention has been impacting families and their children for the past 10 years, recently receiving national recognition and the endorsement of the Zambian First Lady. Our local charity partner Mothers For Change has also partnered with Indo-Zambia Bank, which contributes to the seed capital and has previously conducted extra business and finance training for the mother self-help groups. More recently, three groups have worked together to buy equipment to set up a sausage-making business.