September 16, 2015
15,000 stories: Impacting women in Rwanda
By: Keith Joughin

In Rwanda, Accenture has been working with the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women on a programme called "Skilling for Change," delivering financial literacy training and access to  a mobile loan solution for 15,000 women over a 2 year period. Keith Joughin, leading Accenture’s pro bono support for the programme, visited Rwanda to see the programme’s impact first hand.  

“We’re impacting 15,000 women in Rwanda with this programme”, I’ve casually informed people over the past 12 months. These numbers are great, but more compelling still are the stories behind them.

Sat in a field, a couple of hours from Kigali, a young lady called Odette is telling us how the financial literacy training has helped her in developing the confidence and skills to start a small business, selling fertiliser to the farmers in her community. She speaks with such optimism and ambition, and it dawns on me by the end of the programme, there’ll be 15,000 similar stories to hear.

Skilling for Change is in line with Accenture’s global corporate citizenship agenda around Skills to Succeed. Leading Accenture’s pro-bono support to the programme, I was given the opportunity to visit the country with a delegation from the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, led by Cherie Blair, to see first-hand the impact it’s having.

I have spoken with women from both the mentoring programme and the ‘Village & Saving Loan’ Groups, who have been receiving the financial literacy training and training on the mobile loan solution. Their stories are powerful—particularly when considered against their country’s turbulent history. A visit the ‘genocide memorial museum’ provided an important understanding of just how far these women have come and how the programme has helped them.

The trip has been an amazing experience—a wonderful opportunity to meet a lot of interesting people and understand more about Rwanda’s history and, more importantly, its future. We have had dinner with the Finance Minister, lunch with the British High Commissioner and the DFID lead in Rwanda and dinner with the President, Paul Kagame and his family. We have also spent time with some of the partner organisations of the programme, including CARE and Kenyan Central Bank, as well as the great team from the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women. It has been a fantastic chance to see the success and impact of this programme to date, and also share ideas and thoughts around what else could be done.

Empowering women to gain financial independence carries a strong multiplier effect, meaning the positive impact of reaching 15,000 women through this project will be passed on to their families. That’s a lot of good stories to hear.

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