The reason many people live in poverty is that they lack a job through which they can support themselves. At Hand in Hand, we believe that part of the solutions is small family-owned, entrepreneurial businesses, channeling individuals’ own power of initiative and abilities. This can change families’ entire circumstances.
We predominantly educate and train women and youths in self-help groups with a focus on entrepreneurship. This leads to new businesses starting and existing businesses growing, generating livelihood and jobs. The entrepreneurs can improve their lives; their families are fed, and children can attend school. We are convinced that individuals possess both the will and the ability. With the right support, they can and will take responsibility for their own lives. Pride, self-confidence, and belief in the future are difficult to measure, but they all produce palpable effects, every single day!
Focus on women and youth
Studies show that women generally invest 90 % of their income into their families’ well-being, compared to only 30 % for men. When women gain a higher economic and social status, families and communities are impacted positively. Children can attend school, health improves, and women are able to take control over their own lives. Southern Africa has a rapidly growing young population, the majority of which lack employment. For this reason, we are also targeting our programmes in the region towards youth. Women make up the majority of participants in our projects in Africa, but even men participate.
Being able to provide oneself and one’s family with a livelihood is a precondition for creating sustainable communities and achieving inclusive economic growth. We work under the philosophy of “helping people help themselves”. The method that Hand in Hand has developed, and continues to improve upon, is always adapted to local conditions and is based upon:
– Social mobilisation in self-help groups
– Training in entrepreneurship
– Training in saving and loans and access to microfinance as well as building links to larger markets
Social mobilisation in self-help groups strengthens individuals’ motivation to assume responsibility for their own, their family’s, and their community’s development. The composition of the groups and their dynamics are key to both individual and group development. The members give and receive inspiration and training in saving and loans. This provides a real education in handling money and personal finances. It is possible to target other problems in the community as well, by using self-help groups as a democratic platform.
There are many reasons children are forced to work instead of attending school. Some parents fail to see the value of an education and, in many families, the older children have to stay home and take care of their younger siblings. Poverty is, however, the most common reason.
Our target group lives on very small incomes or even no income at all. They lack a buffer for economic strains such as death, illness, or natural disasters. They can rarely afford balanced meals, health, and medical care, or school fees. Children often have to work to contribute to providing for the family.
When children are forced to work, they miss out on their childhood and attending school. This has consequences even for future generations. One might say that children inherit poverty.