"Building Capacity for Change: Developing Women’s Leadership and Business Skills" describes an action-research project (2012-15) that helped women improve their lives in Ghana, Kenya and Uganda. It portrays the experiences and voices of women Fair Trade producers, and includes a case study analyzing the overall impact of the project.
LISTEN: A range of training helped women handicraft producers build incomes, leadership abilities and confidence. Hear what they say about their changed lives—and find out how others can gain from this training
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Leadership & Business Skills for Women Fair Trade Producers
Strong business skills help women run productive enterprises and earn much-needed income. Information on markets and buyers lets them create the right products and sell them at a fair price. And leadership skills allow women to form effective self-help groups and achieve equality in their member associations. Together, these skills can dramatically improve the livelihoods of poor women producers.
Between 2013 and 2015, thousands of informal women workers gained skills through their fair trade organizations in Ghana (cocoa farmers), Kenya (handicraft producers), and Uganda (coffee farmers and handicraft producers).
To maximize the number of women who gained the skills to succeed, the project relied on a cascading approach to training. Knowledge and skill spread from country-level networks to fair trade groups and individual members, then to grassroots groups. This created a sustainable base beyond the life of the project. Read more about the cascading empowerment training.
Training manuals have been developed as an online resource. These are available through the links below.
Stories of Change
- Confidence Soars for Nurturing Uganda's Women
- Success for the Women of Machakos Cooperative Union
- Bega kwa Bega: Shoulder to Shoulder Achieving their Goals(Kenya)
In Kenya, the women of Basecamp Maasai Brand, a fair trade self-help group, have gained vital business and leadership skills essential for income needed to survive and thrive.
Read Maasai Women Bead Better Products, Better Lives
In Uganda, a group of women implemented what they learned and quickly saw big dividends. Read Kampala Women's Group Sews--and Reaps Big Rewards
Why This Project?
Many women in Africa produce handicrafts at home to generate desperately needed income for their families. Small scale agriculture is also a crucial source of earnings, though women in Africa often receive little or no income from the sale of the products they grow.
Fair Trade actively targets poor home-based producers and offers an alternative means of livelihood.
A previous WIEGO project on Fair Trade demonstrated that when women organize into groups for market access, they are more likely to improve their economic and social situation. But it revealed a need to help women gain skills to assume leadership positions so they can ensure organizations remain accountable to members and are effective trading entities.
To succeed in their enterprises, women producers must understand their rights as workers, and must be able to access and own resources, including credit and land. Laws and policies aimed at promoting women’s equality are often not implemented.
Partners and Outcomes
Kuapa Kokoo Cooperative: 607 primary societies of cocoa farmers took part; 697 women were trained
as facilitators and over 2,800 women have have been reached.
KEFAT (Kenya Federation for Alternative Trade): 30 self-help women’s groups from all parts of Kenya participated; 3,160 women received training
GUMUTINDO Coffee Cooperative: 10 of Gumutindo's 16 primary societies took part; 1,281 women were trained
UGAFAT (Ugandan Federation for Alternative Trade): 29 producer groups that are UGAFAT members participated; 893 women were trained.
Training Manuals: Developing Leadership and Business Skills for Informal Women Workers in Fair Trade
This series of training manuals aims to improve the financial independence and capacities of home-based women proudcers, particularly those involved in fair trade activities. It developed out of the trainings done in Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda. The series goes through the steps of leadership development; cooperative and independent financing; and the broadening business skills such as product consistency and pricing.
Developing Leadership and Business Skills for Informal Women Workers in Fair Trade was produced as a part of WIEGO’s Global Trade Programme, in partnership with fair trade organizations in Africa. Both the project and production of these manuals received support from Funding Leadership and Opportunities for Women (FLOW), Government of the Netherlands, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Download the manuals:
- Introduction & Training Module 1: Understanding Gender and Employment Relations
- Training Module 2: Understanding Women's Economic and Social Contribution to Effective Poverty Reduction
- Training Module 3: Promoting Democratic Participation and Accountability
- Training Module 4: Enhancing Financial and Business Management Skills
- Training Module 5: Understanding the Market
- Training Module 6: Quality Management Systems
- Training Module 7: Improving Innovation and Production Techniques