In Ethiopia, Mercy Corps is empowering two generations of women at once by paying mothers to keep their daughters in school.
Through the innovative program, Ethiopian mothers receive loans in order to pursue entrepreneurial activities and expand their small enterprises. But the loans are dependent on the mothers keeping their daughters in school.
The approach uses the idea of conditional aid, which refers to financial assistance that's dependent on specific actions or commitments by the recipients. In this case, the program emphasizes the role lifelong education and skill-building plays in creating income and opportunity. By adding in a skills training program for the mothers, the opportunity to join savings and loans groups to learn how to manage their money, and additional perks, like school supplies and fuel-efficient stoves for the families, the incentive program provides benefits now and long into the future.
Here's a photo gallery of what the results look like so far, and here's what the numbers look like:
- 150 girls received scholarships for secondary education and additional vocational training to increase their opportunities to qualify for jobs
- 100+ mothers and female caretakers received loans for income-generating activities as long as their girls stay in school
- 150 women have engaged in small enterprise projects based on the loans and skills training
- 200 women have taken part in savings and loans groups to learn how to manage their finances
- Girls in school help to educate their illiterate mothers during school breaks
- Girls who previously had to work long hours to earn money for their families now have more free time to attend classes since their mothers supplement family income with business-improving loans
The loan program asks families for a trade-off, but as these two generations of women embrace new opportunities, the tradeoffs are now paying off.
Check out MercyCorps’ pictures from Ethiopia in the photo essay “An Education for Ethiopia’s Young Women."