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« Paul's Reflections, a Year Into the Program | Main | Collaboration for long term success »
Thursday
Mar082012

Celebrating International Women's Day: Support for Female Entrepreneurs

Today in Dschang, the women from our entrepreneurial program will be proudly marching together, in celebration of International Women’s Day. I was excited to learn that the women had decided to march, because it exemplifies the spirit of mutual support and collective confidence building that are some of our program’s underlying objectives. Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting a number of the participants with Chymène, the class instructor, and saw firsthand the bond that has developed between the instructor and her students, and her pride at their success.  

Many of the participants in the course only had a minimal amount of formal education, and are unused to the formality of tests and homework. Chymène is patient with the women and carefully goes over each week’s work, ensuring that all the women understand each lesson. The section of the curriculum which is most difficult for many is accounting and Chymène was particularly proud to show me the women who now carefully record their daily income and expenses in their books.

When I asked the women what had been the most difficult aspect of the course, almost all agreed that the real challenge was not the class work, but putting that theoretical knowledge into practical use in their own businesses, and that they were grateful for the continual support and advice that Chymène provides. Chymène meets each woman at least once a month to go over their accounts and discuss any growing pains the business may be experiencing. Above, she is at the store of Justine Ndjanbong, watching as students come to purchase food on their way home from school.

So far 55 women have graduated from the class, and registration is under way for the next session. Of the women who have graduated, 16 received loans in September and 16 more are in the process of opening accounts. I hope that, as the program continues, these successful entrepreneurs will become mentors for young women in Dschang looking to start businesses, providing a vision of financial competence and independence, as well as guiding young women through the difficult first steps of launching an entreprise.

Members of Breaking Ground's Women's Entrepreneurial Program marched Thursday, March 8, in Dschang to celebrate International Women's Day.

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