OneVillage Partners introduced the Nurturing Opportunities for Women (NOW) program in 2016 with the goal of educating primarily illiterate women in a fully picture-based financial literacy curriculum. The program uses a variety of activities and tools to help participants work on their personal financial goals. In the program, each participant chooses a financial goal they strive to achieve – many selecting to start a business.
In 2018, with the success of the NOW program, OneVillage Partners decided to expand on its programming and participant’s financial knowledge by implementing NOW: Business Skills. It was introduced to strengthen participant’s economic activity through more complex management and budgeting skills. Throughout the course, participants acquired skills and gained knowledge with the intention of establishing their own successful and sustainable business. Before engaging in NOW: Business Skills, participants struggled to separate their household and business savings and in differentiating between safe and risky business plans. These mistakes often resulted in collapsed businesses and financial stress on households. After learning these business skills, however, things began to change. Fatmata Duba in Gbeka said, “Before this time, I failed in my business activity, but with the vast knowledge from the NOW learning, I have taken a positive direction towards my business, and it’s generating more income for me.”
One of the most important skills participants learned throughout the program was how to conduct a market survey. To do this, participants assess demand, competition, potential earnings, and how much will need to be invested. After looking at all these elements, participants decide if the intended business and location is the right choice for them. Fatmata Keifala in Grima said, “With the market survey, I can now identify which business has low or high risk and when and where I should do my business.”
The combination of the two NOW programs has created change by building up participants’ ideas and confidence in running their day to day financial affairs. From their household to their business, participants are confident in making financial decisions and are now able to successfully communicate these decisions with their family. Overall, the NOW programs have deeply impacted participant’s lives, allowing them to become more confident, self-reliant women.
Authors: NOW Coordinators