The evaluation covers the 5th phase of the long-term project, Women empowerment and entrepreneurship, in Madhya Pradesh. It started in 2008 with the aim of contributing to basic literacy among women, giving them knowledge in entrepreneurship and strengthening their self-determination. The project is run by Hand in Hand and is partially financed by Läkarmissionen.
The project’s overarching goal is to contribute to reducing poverty and vulnerability among 12,000 persons, mostly women, in Madhya Pradesh. It addresses the fundamental causes of their difficult living conditions. Some of the intermediate goals include:
• Increased incomes by 30% among 30% of the target group
• 500 participants upgraded their family business to micro businesses
• 3,600 women learned to read and write
Using self-help as a driving force, marginalised women living in poverty have learned the necessary skills to start and run micro businesses. This has led to significant increases in their incomes. In addition, its material benefits, the project has also made women more apt to participate in discussions concerning women’s rights, including ending domestic violence, health, and sexual and reproductive rights. They have increased their self-confidence in contacts with government agencies, on issues such as personal property, benefits, and social services such as water, roads, and sewage.
Women are significant contributors to the family income in 70% of the households. Families’ average incomes have doubled over the course of the project. Over 85 % of the women now run a micro business and almost all of these (98 %) say that their family income has increased as a result of the project.
Despite the fact that incomes have decreased during the pandemic, 96 % of the women participants were affected less than their neighbours.
Through training in group dynamics, reading and writing, basic financial matters, as well as awareness of their civil and economic rights, these women have increased their self-confidence and their ability to stand up for their rights. These are all factors that make the project sustainable in the long term.
The evaluation makes a number of recommendations, particularly in the area of education. Training can be made simpler and more hands-on. In some areas, it can be conducted via video. Education is an area where the needs of new groups differ from those of more mature and established groups. The latter should focus more on support in taking the step from a family business to a micro business.
Using experiences from successful micro-businesses and passing them on to newly started businesses. An educational center for women can be created on the internet, to facilitate exchanges of experience.
The project can help create stronger links to state programmes in the area of insurance, microfinance, seed distribution, crops, and veterinary services.