Integrated Program of Small Business Support for the Women of Kicukiro District in Rwanda

Project location: Rwanda, Kigali
Project start date: January 2018 - Project end date: March 2019
Project number: 2017-070
Beneficiary: Progetto Rwanda Onlus


This project was created out of a desire to implement and further stimulate the crucial role of women in preserving the values of equality, peace, dignity and development in Africa and particularly in Rwanda. It is devoted to women, to make them aware of their rights and to support them while they become economically independent and on their way toward self-determination.

Part of what makes women poor in Africa, as well as in Rwanda, are social inequalities and the lack of opportunities they face purely because of their gender.

The project directly faces this challenge, making women and their rights the center of the strategy, strengthening their economic empowerment, thus appraising their role within the community. Economic empowerment of women is not only crucial to the achievement of gender equality but it is also crucial in achieving pro-poor economic growth and the eradication of poverty. The project will focus on two main areas: first, supporting women’s empowerment and consequently, improving their type of earnings and participation in decision making and second, strengthening their awareness of their rights, to encourage their personal development and the social cohesion of the group. Through these tools, Progetto Rwanda has pursued and continues to pursue the goal of promoting the birth of a society in which the right to self-determination and respect for human rights can be fully concretized.

Therefore, this project aims on removing the obstacles which prevent women from reaching social inclusion and basic economic development (particularly women living in great economic difficulties), given our former experience in this sector. In fact, women involved in the project, due to a lack of organisation, are not able to put their idea into effect; they are not able to plan their activities and are not aware of the bureaucratic procedures they have to follow in order to create an income-generating activity. Moreover, it is not easy for them to understand the opportunity of working together, as a group, and the benefits of a shared work. For this reason, the project focuses on giving them training to improve their skills and helping them finding an employment. Furthermore, through counselling workshops, it should be possible to create a space where they can share their opinions. We think these women can overcome their existential difficulties and start a new life, also thanks to the experienced trainers and to the work they will do together and by their own.

Another major challenge to tackle is insufficient access to electricity and drinking water. Access to improved water sources in Kicukiro district is still insufficient taking into account the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) and the Vision 2020 (Rwanda Government Development Program) target of 100% access to clean water. The problem will be addressed by providing an Off Grid Box (OGB), an innovative, all-in-one, utility system able to produce renewable energy and clean water. The OGB is a new model for healthy, eco-sustainable development with no grid and no greenhouse gas emissions or other polluting emissions. The ability to autonomously meet energy and water needs is the main objective of this task, especially for the most vulnerable communities.
The project will be held in the district of Kicukiro ( Kigali), in the House of Peace and Reconciliation, which is a center dedicated to the most vulnerable women in the area, where free trainings and different courses have been offered and organized for the last 10 years. Here, in 2013 Progetto Rwanda opened a kindergarden in order to take care of the children of these women, who have been selected among the poorest families, in order to make them independent and able to fulfil their family’s need.
This approach is supported by innovating activities, including psycho-social support, which will last all along the project, both during the training activities and the social re-integration through employment.

The specific objectives of the project, which received a grant from the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation, are:

1) Fighting against poverty
2) Promoting awareness of human rights in general and, particularly, of sexual and reproductive rights, including prevention of unwanted pregnancies,
3) Promoting the knowledge and the importance of mothers’ health and their reproductive health, as well as that of gynaecological assistance,
4) Improving women’s psychological, social and economic condition and their families,
5) Promoting women empowerment and their economic development, in order to develop self-help and savings groups,
6) Improving hygiene conditions.

This project will last 15 months and will be developed according the following steps:

1) Presentation of the project to the women
2) Start up of training courses: family planning, counselling and entrepreneurship
3) Supply and installation of off-grid box (OGB)
4) Evaluation and financing of small business projects proposed by women
5) Monitoring and evaluation of the project

Given the peculiarity of the project, based on training and the passing of knowledge, the beneficiaries will be completely independent by the end of the project. Among the objectives of this project, the development of women’s working skill is one of the most important. They will be able to use the techniques learnt in order to create income-generating activities, in order to improve their families’ and their life conditions. This double training method, both theoretical and practical, will guarantee the learning and acquirement of knowledge useful in the labor market.
At last, even if in the short term the beneficiaries of the project will be the women who took part in it , on the middle and long term, the whole population of Kicukiro District will take advantage from the project. The results of project activities will consolidate awareness of one's rights, particularly those related to gender equality and also strengthen the pacification and cohesion process society. Finally, it will support women's autonomy and their empowerment, to actively participate to the country's economic and social development.

This project received another grant in 2019.

Progetto Rwanda Onlus
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