SBS: Helping Women Leave Poverty Behind

SBS: Helping Women Leave Poverty Behind

Written by Devin Hibbard, CEO & Co-Founder of Street Business School

Hadijja is our “why”

“I have come to learn that I am my best resource and that has given me the confidence to do what I am doing today,” said Hadijja Namuwaya, a graduate of the Street Business School (SBS) entrepreneurial training program in Uganda. 

Street Business School exists to support women like Hadijja, and her peers, Rose, Scovia, Esther and Eseza, who all run microbusinesses to help support themselves, their families and their communities. The SBS program gave Hadijja, a nursery school teacher, the tools she needed to start a business. In her case, she started a mobile money stand in her community and hired her sister to help manage the business while she continued teaching at the nursery school. Through the SBS training, Hadijja learned essential customer care and bookkeeping skills needed to start, run and grow a successful business.  

Prior to enrolling in Street Business School, Hadijja was making 150,000 shillings a month, equivalent to $40 USD, from her teaching job. She was finding it increasingly difficult to support her family and was looking for opportunities to increase her income. That’s when Street Business School came to her attention. Hadijja had a keen interest in business and enrolled in the six-month training program. 

Today, one year after graduating, Hadijja is making 590,000 Ugandan shillings a month, equivalent to $173 USD, or about $5.77 a day, and is one step closer to realizing her dream of owning her own kindergarten. To put this in context, in line with the World Bank practice, the official global poverty line is $1.90 USD per person per day.

Hadijja’s story is one example demonstrating the efficacy of the training program in helping women start, run and grow a business. SBS new research report highlights key findings from a randomized control trial (RCT) study, SBS Impact Study: Leaving Poverty Behind. Among the findings, the report shows women who graduate SBS programs nearly double their income through business ownership and steadily increase their business’ earnings within one year of graduating. 

Our Program Collaborates With Partners to Eliminate Poverty

Street Business School is a leader in global business training programs, helping women develop skills to become entrepreneurs and microbusiness owners. We are on a path to help one million women lift themselves and their five million children from poverty. 

We accomplish this through a transformative social franchise model, operating in 26 countries and working collaboratively with more than 160 NGO partners to provide training for more than 24,000 women to date. Each franchise partner customizes and localizes the program to meet the needs in their respective community.  

Partners receive either in-person or virtual training, providing them with everything they need to launch their own Street Business School in the community they serve.  The 6-month immersive training focuses on providing business education and one-to-one coaching to help women start, run and grow their businesses. 

The foundation of our program is to help women leave poverty behind, thereby ensuring progress toward the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1: Eliminating Poverty. Through our powerful collaborative franchise model, our partners work on myriad issues, ultimately addressing 16 of the 17 SDGs

New Research Shows Women Can Nearly Double Their Income

Our work has never been more critical for women like Hadijja, as we enter a post-pandemic world. Research has shown that women have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. In fact, according to recent reports from UN Women and UNDP, almost 100 million people have been pushed back into extreme poverty; half of which are women and girls, reversing years of steady decline in poverty rates. Many of these are people working in the informal sector, the demographic that SBS serves, who are back to only 64% of their pre-pandemic earnings.  

SBS undertakes a rigorous evaluation process to deeply understand the impact of our training in order to continually improve the curriculum, encourage more NGO partnership participation, and attract more women to enroll. 

To that end, SBS’s new research, the first of its kind for the organization, shows how transformational entrepreneurship training and coaching can be for women living in extreme poverty. We worked with researchers from the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), based at MIT, and Universidad del Rosario in Colombia to conduct a randomized control trial (RCT) study that set out to determine if SBS’s training model contributed to increased income and business ownership. Occurring from August 2018 through December 2021, with 940 women across five communities in Uganda, the RCT study was conducted during the pandemic, when women were forced out of the workforce in record numbers. 

The findings show just how resilient women can be. Through our research, we hope to shed further light on how the social franchise model supports sustainable business ownership, empowers more women around the globe to help them create jobs and generate income for themselves and their families.

Hadijja is just one example of how our work impacts the lives of women. Other findings from our research are equally promising. They demonstrate that one-year after attending the program, SBS graduates experienced the following benefits:

  • Increased their earnings 95% — from an average of $2.47/day to $4.82/day, nearly doubling within a year of graduation
  • Generated profits 110% higher than the control group (who did not receive training)
  • Experienced a 95% increase in daily sales, compared to 46% of the control group
  • Increased their savings by 31% 

But It’s Much More Than Numbers

Street Business School’s proven model is critical for helping women build back after the pandemic. It helps create criticalpathways to operating a sustainable business and jobs that generate income for our graduates and their families. We operate on the premise of the ripple effect: when you invest in women, you in turn, invest in their families and their communities. We do our work for women like Hadijja, so she has the tools to leave poverty behind.

I’m so grateful to Street Business School for believing in women like me and empowering us to not only be productive members for our families and our communities,” added Hadijja. “There is nothing more encouraging than having people around that believe in you, encourage you and know you can ‘make it.’

Hadijja said it better than I ever could. 

I’d love to hear from you! How can we work toward lifting more women like Hadijja out of poverty? 

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