Start-ups for Child Brides
Sustain Cameroon supports girls at risk to be married off and to young women who married as a child. Younger girls can enrol in school. Older girls start a vocational training in tailoring and design, hairdressing or farming for commercial purpose. And those who already have a profession or business idea are supported to start a business. The project targets child brides and at-risk girls aged around 11 to 23 years, living in rural underserved communities in 4 divisions of the Northwest Region of Cameroon, where girls from low income and poorer households are less likely to enrol in school. These women and girls are daily faced with exploitation and abuse. When families live in unsafe regions or environments, parents may genuinely believe that marrying their daughter is the best way to protect them from danger. Also, poverty and the absence of income opportunities results in child marriages to older men for financial security. Sustain Cameroon strongly believes that education alone is not sufficient to bring sustainable change for these girls and young women. They also need access to income sources, because it is the absence of a sustainable livelihood opportunities – and the bid to survive – that puts them at very vulnerable positions and keeps them at the mercy of their exploiters and abusers. That is why we offer school enrolment or an 8-months vocational training in tailoring, hairdressing or farming. After completing the training young women can start a business, with coaching and become member of a saving group, to sustain their businesses long-term. In this way they will have the resources and tools that will enable them to thrive.
In total the project supports 25 girls and young women:
- We expect 12 girls to go back to school or to start vocational training and develop a business idea. Global research shows that with every extra year in school, someone’s income and health increases.
- 13 young women have started a business.
Longer-term, we expect that at least 20 trainees will have a successful business and increase their income with 50%. An increased income will support the young women and on average 50 family members to secure their basic needs of health, education and livelihoods. Ultimately, not being dependent, and gaining self-esteem are all supportive to protect them from the violence, abuses, and exploitation that many of our recipients experienced.
In all four communities where the project takes place, communities benefit economically from new jobs that the new or growing businesses bring. In addition, we establish two more village savings and revolving microloan schemes, where businesswomen can save and get a loan for their businesses to start or grow. It is means for the young women in the project and beyond. It is expected that 100 women will benefit from that. And finally, we see that some of our recipients start acting as role models who inspire and motivate others with their success stories. Others start mobilising peers and community members into activities against child marriage. Ultimately, the project contributes to lesser number of girls shall fall victims to child early and forced marriages in the participating communities.
The budget for the following activities is XAF 5,734,505 (or €8,737). The donation will be used to:
- Scholarship assistance for primary education or vocational education. (XAF 780,000)
- For the technical vocational training, we will equip a rented space as a training centre in the communities we work – so that education becomes accessible – with sewing machines, hairdryers, shaving machines, hand dryers, fabrics, weaves, hair products and treatment, and accessories. (XAF 1,875,000)
- Coaching and project administration (XAF 300,000)
- For starting businesses, the young women will be provided with equipment, tools, materials and accessories to begin a small business start-up. For instance, farm tools and inputs. (XAF 2,160,000)
- Starting 2 village savings and revolving loan schemes in 2 two communities for 50 women each. (XAF 1,112,000)
- 5% to iMPACT direct for facilitating direct donations to local solutions (which helps to cover costs of the website, promotion and proposal writing, costs of financial services and the support to NGOs).
We want to empower those that have already received the training as coaches. And also the staff and volunteers will act as coaches to follow up the trainees and those established to ensure that they are able to stand on their own feet. Currently, there are no other sources of income for the project though we will continue to source for additional support to scale up activities in order to increase impact.