3 Stories of Women Empowering Women in 2021: Celebrating Resilience, Collaboration and Hope

3 Stories of Women Empowering Women in 2021: Celebrating Resilience, Collaboration and Hope

This is often a time for contemplation and gratitude as millions around the world celebrate December holidays and look toward the new year ahead. In this second holiday season impacted by the pandemic, we find ourselves reflecting on the inspiring ways people have come together to help each other survive and thrive.

Street Business School works with women in 25 countries who are lifting themselves and their families from poverty by running their own businesses. But we don’t do it alone. We work with a network of more than 150 partner NGOs and counting, who deliver our proven entrepreneurial training program to the people they serve.

The past two years have put this work to the ultimate test. The pandemic and related economic disruptions have forced millions of people, who fought against all odds to better their lives and support their families, back into extreme poverty. As heartbreaking as these statistics are, we know we cannot allow ourselves to be discouraged. SBS graduates and our NGO partners know it, too, and we are in constant awe of their resilience.

This year we were amazed to see the opportunity that has come from standing strong together in the face of a true challenge. Women have continued to enroll in entrepreneurial training workshops directly with SBS and also through our partners. Graduates have developed new “COVID-proof” business models to make ends meet during lockdowns. New NGO partners have joined our network, looking to meet adversity with new solutions for the people they serve, and the network continues to support each other during these most challenging of times.

As we reflect on where we’ve come and where we’re going, we’re inspired by themes of hope and collaboration, and these three stories were some of our favorites of the year.

Victoria Develops New “COVID-proof” Business Models 

We told you about Victoria Achola earlier this year, and her story of leadership and resilience continues to inspire us.

Victoria was introduced to Street Business School in 2018 while earning the equivalent of less than $2 per day. After graduation, she launched her own business selling chapatti, a traditional Ugandan flatbread. Then came the pandemic, and with it a host of challenges for this woman entrepreneur and her community.

The Ugandan government issued a lockdown that caused Victoria and thousands of entrepreneurs like her to close their businesses overnight. Undeterred, Victoria launched two new “COVID-proof” businesses to make ends meet for her family. She’s up before the sun at 5 a.m. making chapatti, and within two hours she’s outside tending her vegetable garden, which supplies the produce stall she launched that has since become her most successful business. Once the lockdown ended, she launched a third business, selling secondhand bedsheets and bedcovers, that has helped her increase her income to $6 per day.

Victoria’s story is also one of transformative collaboration: After launching her own business, Victoria went on to mobilize 100 women in her community to join SBS and start enterprises of their own. This community leader shows the power of people helping people and women empowering women, and her story continues to fill our hearts with joy.

The Karambi Group of People with Disabilities Brings Hope to Their Community

Jackeline Asimwe is a 28-year-old single mother who lives in the Kasese District of Uganda, and she’s now making ends meet for herself and her family as a successful entrepreneur.

Jackeline, who lives with cerebral palsy, received business training from one of our newest partners, Karambi Group of People with Disabilities. Founded in 1995, Karambi Group looks to empower people living with disabilities, along with their families and communities, to improve their quality of life. The group provides healthcare, education and vocational training services, engages people with disabilities and their families in farming and food forestry, and now offers entrepreneurial training as an SBS Partner NGO.

Jackeline is among the first cohort of SBS graduates from Karambi. During her training, Karambi’s staff coached Jackeline to ensure she understood business basics and — most importantly — gained confidence in herself. She’s since tripled her income by running her own business at the local community market.

“Karambi Group made me realize that I can succeed as a businesswoman regardless of my disability and fulfill financial goals,” Jackeline said. “I’m able to earn profit each day. I am now imagining myself being able to take care of my family as well as save money to reinvest in my stall.”

Karambi Group’s unwavering commitment to bettering lives and livelihoods in their communities — and the dogged determination of people like Jackeline — continue to give us hope.

Our Network of SBS Partner NGOs Continue to Support Each Other

This year we welcomed grassroots organizations like Karambi Group, as well as large NGOs like BRAC, to our network of partners that are changing lives through entrepreneurship.

Our Partner NGOs stay in contact through the SBS Global Network via capacity-building Skype calls and workshops, private Facebook and WhatsApp groups, and informative quarterly newsletters to help NGOs improve funding, networking and impact.

These connections proved crucial as NGOs around the world, and the people they serve, looked to weather the pandemic. Still, the hard work is far from over, and looking toward 2022 SBS has two primary goals: We will bring SBS to new organizations who are fighting poverty on the front lines around the world, and we’ll stand with our growing circle of NGO partners — continuing to support their ability to deliver our transformational training.

Our true commitment to collaboration has only deepened in the past year and we plan to continue providing capacity building, implementation awards, evaluation support, peer-learning and convening in the year ahead.

We thank all of our generous donors who continue to support SBS and our work around the world. Together, we will help 1 million women to ignite their potential, change their communities and leave poverty in the dust. JOIN US.

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