Empowering Women through Community Support in Social Businesses, Start-ups, Saving Circles, and Fundraising Initiatives
You, who founded Mother Center, can look around the world at what women’s businesses and initiatives exist, and which of these you can integrate and adapt into your Mother Center mother community.
In this chapter, we have collected such examples and good practices.
Women around the world have been making significant strides in various spheres of life, including entrepreneurship and business. In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the role of women in economic and social development, and numerous initiatives, models, and institutions have emerged to support women’s communities in social businesses, start-ups, saving circles, and fundraising efforts.
Social businesses, which are driven by a social mission and aim to create positive impact alongside financial sustainability, have gained traction as a way to address social issues while generating income. Women have been at the forefront of social entrepreneurship, establishing businesses that tackle pressing challenges such as poverty, gender inequality, education, health, and environmental sustainability.
One notable initiative that supports women’s communities in social businesses is the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women. This global organization provides mentorship, training, and access to finance for women entrepreneurs in low and middle-income countries. Through their “Enterprise Development Program,” the foundation has supported over 160,000 women entrepreneurs, helping them to start and grow their businesses, create employment opportunities, and contribute to the economic development of their communities.
Another model that has gained momentum is start-up incubators and accelerators focused on women entrepreneurs. These programs provide mentorship, business development support, and access to networks and funding opportunities, helping women to overcome the barriers they often face in the entrepreneurial journey.
Saving circles, also known as savings and credit groups, have emerged as a powerful tool to empower women economically. These groups typically consist of a small group of women who pool their savings and provide loans to each other for various purposes, such as starting or expanding businesses, education, healthcare, or emergencies. Saving circles not only provide financial support but also create a sense of community and solidarity among women, boosting their confidence and decision-making abilities. For instance, the “Self-Employed Women’s Association” (SEWA) in India has facilitated the formation of savings and credit groups among its members, providing them with financial services, business training, and market linkages to improve their livelihoods.
Other example is: How ‘savings circles’ empower women in rural Africa
Fundraising efforts have also been instrumental in supporting women’s communities in various initiatives. Crowdfunding, in particular, has gained popularity as a way to raise funds for social causes and projects, including those initiated by women. Platforms such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and GoFundMe have enabled women entrepreneurs, activists, and community leaders to access capital for their ventures, products, services, and campaigns, often bypassing traditional funding channels.
In addition to these initiatives and models, several institutions have also emerged to support women in social businesses, start-ups, saving circles, and fundraising. For instance, the Global Banking Alliance for Women (GBA) is a consortium of financial institutions that promotes women’s economic empowerment through access to finance, business support, and advocacy. The GBA’s programs and initiatives aim to close the gender financing gap and create a supportive ecosystem for women entrepreneurs and leaders.
In conclusion, initiatives, models, and institutions that support women’s communities in social businesses, start-ups, saving circles, and fundraising have played a crucial role in empowering women economically and socially. These efforts have provided women with access to resources, networks, mentorship, and funding opportunities, enabling them to overcome barriers and thrive as entrepreneurs, leaders, and changemakers. Examples such as the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, Women’s Startup Lab, SEWA, crowdfunding platforms, and the Global Banking Alliance for Women are just a few illustrations of the diverse and impactful initiatives that are supporting women in their entrepreneurial endeavors. These efforts have not only created economic opportunities but have also fostered community building, empowerment, and social change.
For instance, women who have benefited from these initiatives have been able to start and grow their businesses, create jobs, improve their livelihoods, and contribute to the economic development of their communities. They have also gained access to networks, mentorship, and business development support, which have helped them overcome the challenges they often face in male-dominated industries. Moreover, these initiatives have provided a platform for women to raise their voices, advocate for gender equality, and challenge social norms and stereotypes.
One example of a successful initiative is the story of Sarah, a woman from a low-income community in Kenya. Sarah was passionate about using her skills in tailoring to start her own business, but she lacked access to finance and business support. Through a social business incubator program supported by a local NGO, Sarah received training in business management, access to micro-loans, and mentorship from successful women entrepreneurs. With this support, Sarah was able to start her own tailoring business, create employment opportunities for other women in her community, and improve her family’s economic well-being.
Saving circles have also had a profound impact on women’s economic empowerment. For example, in rural areas of Bangladesh, where access to formal financial institutions is limited, women have formed savings and credit groups to support each other’s entrepreneurial endeavors. These groups have enabled women to save money, access credit, and invest in income-generating activities such as livestock rearing, poultry farming, and handicraft production. As a result, women have been able to generate income, gain financial independence, and improve their social status within their families and communities.
Furthermore, fundraising efforts, particularly through crowdfunding platforms, have provided women with a means to raise capital for their ventures, campaigns, and social causes. Women-led start-ups, social enterprises, and advocacy campaigns have successfully used crowdfunding to access funds and garner support from a global community of backers. This has enabled women to bring their innovative ideas to life, create social impact, and challenge traditional funding channels that may be biased against women.
In addition to initiatives and models, institutions such as the Global Banking Alliance for Women have played a vital role in supporting women entrepreneurs. Through their programs and initiatives, they have provided women with access to finance, business support, and advocacy, creating an enabling environment for women’s economic empowerment. These institutions have also facilitated networking, knowledge sharing, and collaboration among women entrepreneurs, creating a supportive ecosystem for their success.
However, it is important to note that challenges persist in supporting women’s communities in social businesses, start-ups, saving circles, and fundraising. These challenges include gender bias, discrimination, lack of access to finance and resources, social norms and stereotypes, and limited representation of women in leadership roles. Therefore, continued efforts are needed to address these challenges and create a more inclusive and supportive environment for women entrepreneurs and community leaders.
In conclusion, initiatives, models, and institutions that support women’s communities in social businesses, start-ups, saving circles, and fundraising have been instrumental in empowering women economically and socially. These efforts have provided women with access to resources, networks, mentorship, and funding opportunities, enabling them to overcome barriers and create positive impact. Examples such as the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, Women’s Startup Lab, SEWA, crowdfunding platforms, and the Global Banking Alliance for Women are a testament to the power of community support in empowering women and fostering social change. However, challenges persist, and sustained efforts are needed to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for women entrepreneurs and leaders to thrive. By continuing to invest in these initiatives and models, we can create a more equitable and empowered world for women and their communities.
Article generated by OpenAI, ChatGPT, 2023.
List of supports for low income womens and mothers community
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- Microfinance and microcredit programs: These programs provide small loans and financial services to low-income women and mothers to start or expand their businesses. Microfinance institutions often offer financial literacy training, business development support, and access to credit, enabling women to establish and grow their own businesses.
- Business incubators and mentorship programs: Business incubators and mentorship programs specifically targeted towards low-income women and mothers can provide them with guidance, training, and support in launching and managing their businesses. These programs can help them develop their entrepreneurial skills, access markets, and navigate the challenges of starting a business.
- Community-based organizations and NGOs: Local community-based organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) often offer support to low-income women and mothers in the form of business training, access to resources and networks, and advocacy for their rights. These organizations can provide valuable support in helping women and mothers develop and grow their businesses.
- Savings and credit groups: Savings and credit groups, often formed within communities, can be particularly beneficial for low-income women and mothers. These groups allow members to pool their savings and provide access to credit for business or personal needs. Such groups can provide a safety net and a source of capital for starting or expanding businesses.
- Government programs and initiatives: Government programs and initiatives, such as small business grants, subsidies, and incentives, can also provide support to low-income women and mothers in starting and growing their businesses. These programs may offer financial support, business development training, and other resources to help women and mothers overcome financial barriers and achieve economic empowerment.
- Crowdfunding campaigns and platforms: Crowdfunding campaigns and platforms can be a powerful tool for low-income women and mothers to raise capital for their businesses or initiatives. Crowdfunding allows them to tap into a wider network of potential supporters and raise funds to start or scale their ventures.
- Skill-building and vocational training programs: Skill-building and vocational training programs can equip low-income women and mothers with the necessary skills to start their own businesses or find employment. These programs can provide training in various fields, such as tailoring, handicrafts, food processing, and other marketable skills, enabling women and mothers to generate income through their businesses or gain employment opportunities.
- Mentorship and networking opportunities: Mentorship and networking opportunities can be invaluable for low-income women and mothers, providing them with guidance, advice, and connections to grow their businesses. Mentorship programs, business networks, and industry associations can offer support, guidance, and access to valuable networks and resources.
- Access to affordable resources and infrastructure: Access to affordable resources and infrastructure, such as shared workspaces, tools, equipment, and technology, can be crucial for low-income women and mothers starting their businesses. Co-working spaces, shared facilities, and resource-sharing initiatives can help women and mothers overcome financial constraints and access the resources they need to establish and operate their businesses.
These are just some of the supports that can benefit low-income women and mothers in the areas of social businesses, start-ups, saving circles, and fundraising. It’s important to recognize that the specific support needed may vary depending on the local context and the unique challenges faced by low-income women and mothers in different communities. Therefore, a holistic approach that addresses financial, educational, social, and structural barriers is often necessary to empower and support low-income women and mothers in their entrepreneurial endeavors.
Concrete examples, best practices, project, and organizations
that deal with supporting low-income women and mothers in the areas of social businesses, start-ups, saving circles, and fundraising:
- Grameen Bank (Bangladesh): Grameen Bank is a pioneering microfinance institution that provides small loans to low-income women in Bangladesh to start their own businesses. The bank also offers financial literacy training, business development support, and encourages women to form saving circles to build their savings.
- Kiva (Global): Kiva is a crowdfunding platform that connects lenders with low-income women entrepreneurs around the world. It allows individuals to lend small amounts of money to women entrepreneurs, enabling them to start or expand their businesses.
- Women’s Enterprise Centre (Canada): Women’s Enterprise Centre is a Canadian organization that provides business loans, mentorship, and business advisory services to women entrepreneurs, including low-income women and mothers. They also offer training programs and networking opportunities to help women develop their business skills and connect with other entrepreneurs.
- Women’s Initiative for Self-Employment (USA): Women’s Initiative for Self-Employment is a U.S.-based organization that provides low-income women with comprehensive business training, mentoring, and access to capital to start and grow their businesses. They also offer ongoing support and resources to help women overcome barriers to success.
- Women’s World Banking (Global): Women’s World Banking is a global microfinance network that works with financial institutions to design and deliver financial products and services tailored to the needs of low-income women. They offer solutions such as savings accounts, credit products, and insurance to help women build assets, manage risks, and achieve financial independence.
- Village Enterprise (East Africa): Village Enterprise is a non-profit organization that works in East Africa to provide business training, seed capital, and ongoing mentoring to women living in extreme poverty. Their program focuses on helping women start small businesses that can generate sustainable income, improve livelihoods, and lift families out of poverty.
- BOMA Project (Kenya and Uganda): BOMA Project is a social enterprise that provides business training, seed capital, and ongoing support to women in Kenya and Uganda to start and grow their businesses. They use a “graduation” model that combines business skills training with cash transfers, mentoring, and savings groups to help women build sustainable livelihoods.
- SheWorks! (Argentina): SheWorks! is an initiative in Argentina that provides skills training, job placement services, and mentorship to low-income women and mothers, helping them access employment opportunities and improve their economic prospects. They also offer support in areas such as child care, transportation, and professional development to enable women to succeed in the workforce.
- Women’s Microbank (Papua New Guinea): Women’s Microbank is a microfinance institution in Papua New Guinea that focuses on providing financial services, including loans and savings accounts, to low-income women. They also offer financial literacy training, business development support, and access to markets to help women start and grow their businesses.
These are just a few examples of organizations and initiatives that support low-income women and mothers in the areas of social businesses, start-ups, saving circles, and fundraising. Many other organizations and projects around the world are dedicated to empowering women and mothers, particularly those facing economic challenges, by providing them with the necessary resources, training, mentorship, and support to achieve their entrepreneurial goals.
- Women’s Microenterprise Development for Peace and Prosperity (WMDFPP) (Afghanistan): WMDFPP is a program in Afghanistan that provides business training, financial services, and mentorship to low-income women in conflict-affected areas. The program helps women start and grow their own microenterprises, create jobs, and contribute to peacebuilding and economic development in their communities.
- Prospera (Mexico): Prospera is a women’s savings and loan program in Mexico that aims to improve the economic well-being of low-income women by providing them with access to credit, savings accounts, and financial literacy training. The program also offers business development support, mentorship, and networking opportunities to help women grow their businesses and increase their incomes.
- Women’s Small Business Program (WSBP) (USA): WSBP is a program in the United States that offers business training, mentoring, and access to capital to low-income women entrepreneurs. The program focuses on providing support to women from underserved communities, including women of color, immigrant women, and women with disabilities, to help them start and grow their businesses and achieve economic self-sufficiency.
- Fundación Paraguaya (Paraguay): Fundación Paraguaya is a social enterprise in Paraguay that offers business training, financial services, and mentorship to low-income women through its “Poverty Stoplight” program. The program helps women develop entrepreneurial skills, create savings plans, and access credit to start or expand their businesses, while also addressing other dimensions of poverty such as health, education, and housing.
- Savings Groups (Global): Savings Groups are community-based savings and lending initiatives that empower low-income women to save money, access credit, and invest in income-generating activities. Organizations such as CARE, Oxfam, and World Vision, among others, implement Savings Groups programs in various countries around the world, providing women with training, support, and resources to establish and sustain their own savings groups.
- GlobalGiving (Global): GlobalGiving is a crowdfunding platform that connects donors with grassroots projects and organizations, including those that support low-income women and mothers. The platform allows donors to contribute to projects that promote women’s economic empowerment, entrepreneurship, and financial inclusion in different parts of the world, helping to improve the livelihoods of women and their families.
These are just a few examples of initiatives, models, institutions, and organizations that support low-income women and mothers in the areas of social businesses, start-ups, saving circles, and fundraising. It’s important to note that there are numerous other organizations and projects globally that work towards empowering women and mothers facing economic challenges by providing them with access to resources, training, mentorship, and support to thrive as entrepreneurs and achieve economic self-sufficiency.
- FEMBIOBIZ (Europe): FEMBIOBIZ is a program funded by the European Commission that supports female entrepreneurs in the biotechnology and life sciences sector. The program offers business training, mentoring, networking opportunities, and access to funding for women-led start-ups in Europe, with the aim of promoting gender diversity and inclusion in the biotech industry.
- Social Impact Award (Europe): Social Impact Award is a European-wide program that supports social entrepreneurship among young people. The program provides training, mentoring, and funding to young social entrepreneurs who are addressing social and environmental challenges in their communities. It offers support for start-up development, access to networks, and opportunities for fundraising and investment.
- Microfinance Ireland (Ireland): Microfinance Ireland is a non-profit organization in Ireland that provides loans and mentoring support to microenterprises, including those run by low-income women and mothers. The organization offers loans for start-up or expansion of small businesses, along with tailored mentoring and business planning support to help entrepreneurs succeed.
- Rosa Fund (United Kingdom): Rosa Fund is a UK-based charitable fund that supports women and girls through grants to projects and initiatives aimed at improving their economic and social well-being. The fund provides funding for projects that empower women economically, including those that support low-income women and mothers to start and grow their own businesses, access training and education, and gain financial independence.
- Women in Business (Sweden): Women in Business is a Swedish organization that offers support to women entrepreneurs, including those from low-income backgrounds, through mentoring, networking, and training programs. The organization provides resources and guidance on business planning, marketing, financing, and other aspects of entrepreneurship to help women establish and grow their businesses.
- MicroStart (Belgium): MicroStart is a Belgian microcredit organization that provides financial and non-financial support to micro-entrepreneurs, including low-income women and mothers. The organization offers microloans, business coaching, and mentoring to help entrepreneurs develop and implement their business ideas, create jobs, and improve their livelihoods.
These are just a few examples of initiatives, models, institutions, and organizations in Europe that support low-income women and mothers in their entrepreneurial endeavors. It’s important to note that there are many other programs, funds, and organizations in Europe that work towards empowering women and mothers facing economic challenges, providing them with opportunities to start and grow their businesses, access resources, and achieve economic self-sufficiency.
Other Social entrepreneurship – business successes led by mothers and women
Here is a list of social enterprises that have been successful and are led by mothers or women:
- The Women’s Bean Project (USA): This social enterprise based in Denver, Colorado, provides job training and employment opportunities for women who have faced barriers to employment, such as poverty, homelessness, or criminal history. They produce and sell gourmet food products, including soups, chili, and baking mixes, providing women with valuable job skills and economic empowerment.
- Rukmini Foundation (Nepal): This social enterprise based in Nepal focuses on empowering girls and young women through education. They provide scholarships, mentorship, and life skills training to girls from marginalized communities, helping them access education and opportunities for a better future.
- Boma Jewelry (Kenya): This social enterprise based in Nairobi, Kenya, produces and sells handcrafted jewelry made by Maasai women. By providing training, fair wages, and access to markets, Boma Jewelry empowers these women to earn a sustainable income and support their families.
- MyCup (New Zealand): This social enterprise based in New Zealand produces and sells menstrual cups, a sustainable and affordable menstrual hygiene product. MyCup is committed to breaking the barriers of menstrual health by providing education, awareness, and access to menstrual cups, led by a team of women entrepreneurs.
- Lazos de Agua (Guatemala): This social enterprise based in Guatemala provides clean water solutions to rural communities. They train and employ local women as “water entrepreneurs” who sell affordable water filters and provide maintenance services, improving access to clean water and creating livelihood opportunities for these women.
- SOIL (Haiti): This social enterprise based in Haiti provides access to sustainable sanitation solutions. They use a “restorative sanitation” approach, converting human waste into valuable resources such as compost and renewable energy, creating jobs and promoting environmental sustainability. SOIL’s co-founder, Sasha Kramer, is a leading woman entrepreneur in the field of sustainable sanitation.
- WakaWaka (Netherlands): This social enterprise based in the Netherlands produces and sells solar-powered products, including solar lights and chargers, to provide sustainable energy solutions in off-grid areas. WakaWaka is committed to making clean and affordable energy accessible to all, and is co-founded by a woman entrepreneur, Camille van Gestel.
- Global Mamas (Ghana): This social enterprise based in Ghana empowers women through the production and sale of fair trade clothing, accessories, and home goods. They provide training, fair wages, and market access to women artisans, helping them build sustainable livelihoods and create positive social impact in their communities.
- Trashy Bags (Ghana): This social enterprise based in Ghana collects and upcycles plastic waste into reusable bags and accessories, providing employment opportunities for local women. Trashy Bags aims to address plastic pollution and promote environmental sustainability, while creating economic opportunities for women in Ghana.
- Shakti.ism (India): This social enterprise based in India produces and sells eco-friendly and sustainable menstrual hygiene products, such as cloth pads and menstrual cups, while promoting menstrual health awareness and education. Shakti.ism is founded and led by women entrepreneurs who are passionate about breaking the taboos and promoting healthy menstrual practices.
These are just a few examples of successful social enterprises led by mothers or women around the world. These initiatives demonstrate the power of social entrepreneurship in creating positive social impact, empowering women, and addressing social and environmental challenges.
Here are some examples of successful social enterprises led by mothers or women from Europe:
- Fairphone (Netherlands): This social enterprise based in Amsterdam, Netherlands, produces and sells ethical and sustainable smartphones. Fairphone is committed to creating fairer electronics by addressing issues such as supply chain transparency, worker welfare, and environmental sustainability. The company’s co-founder and CEO, Bas van Abel, is a prominent social entrepreneur and advocate for sustainable electronics.
- Café Joyeux (France): This social enterprise based in France operates a chain of coffee shops that employ people with intellectual disabilities. Café Joyeux provides training and employment opportunities, creating a positive and inclusive work environment for individuals with disabilities. The enterprise was founded by Yann Bucaille, a father of a child with Down syndrome, and his wife Lydwine, and has expanded to multiple locations across France.
- Social Bee (United Kingdom): This social enterprise based in the United Kingdom provides training and employment opportunities for refugees and asylum seekers, with a focus on empowering women. Social Bee offers language and employment skills training, as well as job opportunities in the catering and hospitality sector, helping refugees and asylum seekers rebuild their lives and integrate into their new communities.
- Mama Madina Foundation (Switzerland): This social enterprise based in Switzerland empowers women in Tanzania by providing them with access to education and economic opportunities. Mama Madina Foundation offers vocational training, microloans, and business support to women in rural Tanzania, helping them start and grow their own businesses for financial independence.
- World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) (International): This social enterprise operates in various countries across Europe and connects volunteers with organic farms for educational and cultural exchange. WWOOF provides opportunities for people, including mothers and women, to learn about sustainable farming practices, gain new skills, and experience sustainable living while supporting organic farms and local communities.
- WISE Women (Scotland): This social enterprise based in Scotland provides training and employment opportunities for women who have faced domestic abuse or other forms of violence. WISE Women offers training in various fields, including catering, hospitality, and retail, as well as emotional support and mentoring to help women rebuild their lives and gain economic independence.
- The Soap Co. (United Kingdom): This social enterprise based in the United Kingdom produces and sells luxury soaps and toiletries, employing people who are blind, visually impaired, or otherwise disabled. The Soap Co. provides training, employment opportunities, and support to individuals with disabilities, helping them gain skills, confidence, and financial independence.
These are just a few examples of successful social enterprises led by mothers or women from Europe. These initiatives highlight the diverse range of social issues and industries where women are making a positive impact through entrepreneurship, creating social and environmental value while empowering themselves and others.
Here are some examples of social enterprises that specifically target women and mothers as their business target group:
- Women’s Bean Project (United States): This social enterprise based in Denver, Colorado, provides job training and employment opportunities for chronically unemployed and impoverished women. Women’s Bean Project offers transitional employment in its gourmet food production business, providing women with job skills, support, and resources to overcome barriers to employment and achieve self-sufficiency.
- Mums Bake Cakes (United Kingdom): This social enterprise based in the United Kingdom is an online platform that connects home-based bakers, many of whom are mothers, with customers seeking personalized cakes for special occasions. Mums Bake Cakes provides a platform for women to turn their baking skills into a business, offering them a flexible and empowering way to earn income from home.
- The Second Shift (United States): This social enterprise based in New York City connects highly skilled women, including mothers, with flexible job opportunities in the gig economy. The Second Shift offers a platform that matches women with project-based work and provides support, networking, and professional development opportunities to help them succeed in the workforce on their own terms.
- Motherly (United States): This social enterprise based in the United States is an online media platform that provides resources, support, and community for modern mothers. Motherly offers articles, videos, events, and a marketplace for curated products that are designed to empower and support mothers in their journey through motherhood.
- Dress for Success (International): This social enterprise operates in various countries worldwide and provides women, including mothers, with professional attire, career coaching, and support to help them achieve economic independence. Dress for Success aims to empower women to achieve financial self-sufficiency by providing them with the tools and resources they need to succeed in the workplace.
- The Clink Charity (United Kingdom): This social enterprise based in the United Kingdom operates a chain of restaurants staffed by prisoners, including many mothers, providing them with training, work experience, and support to help them reintegrate into society upon release. The Clink Charity aims to reduce reoffending rates and empower women in the criminal justice system through employment opportunities and rehabilitation programs.
These are just a few examples of social enterprises that specifically target women and mothers as their business target group. These initiatives provide support, empowerment, and opportunities for women and mothers to overcome barriers, gain economic independence, and achieve their full potential in the workforce and society.
Examples from Mother Centers
Downloadable doc: MotherCenters and business
MonikaJaeckel: Business paradox
The document titled “Mother Centers as a Business?” discusses the concept of Mother Centers, which are community-based organizations that provide support and empowerment for mothers. The document explores the idea of Mother Centers operating as businesses, with a focus on sustainability and financial viability. It discusses various business models and strategies that can be employed by Mother Centers to generate income, such as selling products, offering services, and seeking funding from diverse sources. The document highlights the challenges and opportunities associated with running Mother Centers as businesses, including balancing social goals with financial sustainability, engaging in marketing and fundraising efforts, and building partnerships with other organizations. It also emphasizes the importance of maintaining the core values and principles of Mother Centers while pursuing business activities. The document provides insights and examples from different Mother Centers around the world, showcasing their innovative approaches to generating revenue and achieving long-term sustainability. Overall, the document presents a thought-provoking perspective on the potential of Mother Centers to operate as businesses, while maintaining their mission of supporting mothers and promoting community well-being.