The Greener Diamond, in partnership with Youth Action International (YAI), is excited to announce our newest project supporting the Center for Women’s Empowerment in Liberia, Africa. The Center will provide a safe place for women to grow and alleviate the negative impact the civil war has had on them as well as basic education, alternative counseling, and vocational training. Graduates of the Center for Women Empowerment will then be awarded a micro-credit loan and will be assigned to an advisor who will work with them to establish small businesses.
Over the last two years, close to 300 women have benefited from the Center and maintain a 98% success rate in their resulting business ventures.
The center promotes the vital role women can play in sustainable development. It is an integral part of a long-term local capacity-building program for young women. There is increasing evidence that women are more likely to reinvest their profits in education, their family and their community. We believe our support of the Center for Women’s Empowerment in Liberia will jumpstart the success of a new generation of female leaders in Liberia.
About the Center for Women's Empowerment
The Center for Women’s Empowerment is implemented by YAI with funding from All for Africa. It is YAI’s first vocational training center in Liberia. The Center offers free vocational training with flexible schedules for young women ages 13-30. Located on Airfield New Road, the Center is managed by well-skilled program facilitators and YAI staff.
The Center attracts hundreds of poverty-stricken women in Monrovia. Many of the Center’s students are young heads-of-households, market women or street vendors who can barely afford to attend institutions with full-day schedules.
As such, the Center is specially tailored to flexibly allow women with busy schedules to learn new skills and feel empowered to change their circumstances. The program is comprised of class time, workshops, apprenticeships and mentoring sessions that aim to prepare each woman for a life of financial independence, self-confidence and business.
Center curricula meet the Liberian Ministry of Education’s standards for vocational training institutions, while daily workshops and activities help to infuse their education with messages on empowerment, self-confidence, professional lessons and networking skills.
In addition to the core vocational training curriculum, the Center offers workshops which address a wide range of topics including Gender-Based Violence, Liberian Rape Law, Business Management, Micro-Lending, and The Importance of Saving. Representatives from YAI’s partner organizations facilitate workshops in which they have expertise (i.e.: Association of Female Lawyers in Liberia, International Rescue Committee, American Refugee Council’s Liberty Finance, and the Foundation for Women Liberia).
Who benefits from the Center for Women’s Empowerment?
The target beneficiaries of this project include women and girls below thirty years old who have no access to basic information and are vulnerable to sexual exploitation.
The center seeks to:
- Create the necessary opportunities to help young women realize their full potential.
- Provide facilities to help promote and encourage the education and skills training of young women.
- Provide counseling and rehabilitation services to deal with post-traumatic stress and other war-related disorders.
- Implement workshops on small business enterprise so women can develop their business skills.
- Provide capital to help women start and manage their small businesses.
- Assign women to skilled facilitators to work alongside them.
- Ensure that women completing the program will have the knowledge and resources to develop and maintain a business.
- Provide the women computer training to help them market their products through online sites including EBAY.
- Vocational training from agriculture and farming to computer literacy.
- Small business development, including micro-lending.
- Scholarships and educational services.
- Health care awareness.
At the end of each year, women in the program women will graduate from the Center fully trained in a particular area of their choice. The women will have also completed a series of advance counseling programs and business development and management courses.
Graduates of the Center for Women Empowerment will be awarded a micro-credit loan and will be assigned to an exit advisor who will work with the women as they establish small businesses. Within five years, the center will directly train 1,000 women.
The Micro-Credit Lending Process
Prior to graduation, all students will complete two-week apprenticeships. These experiences, coupled with their vocational training will be influential in developing a framework for their own small businesses after the program.
Students will form groups with fellow students with whom they share business ideas and work styles. Each group will consult extensively with their facilitators and YAI program officers in developing their own cooperative business plans.
Upon completing all requirements necessary for the program, YAI will grant each graduating group with micro-credit loans to start up their businesses. Each group will be provided a bank account and required to commit to a savings program. Accumulated savings will serve as a financial safety net for each group in the event of financial trouble or should they choose to leave their businesses.
Who is Youth Action International?
YAI is an international non-profit organization working to educate and empower young people affected by war in the post-war African communities of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Uganda. Founded by Kimmie Weeks, survivor of the Liberian conflict, YAI develops and funds programs in:
YAI is run by a network of young international leaders who are defining a new approach to delivering humanitarian aid. By leveraging the use of local materials and employing local people, YAI maximizes the economic and social impact of programs which include building schools and playgrounds, as well as micro-lending.