We have developed a more comprehensive approach to this empowerment program that addresses the financial and emotional needs specifically of the young women from the community under the age of 25 who have been forced to drop out of school due to pregnancy.

We have constructed and launched a bakery owned and operated by these young women in Ruhiira. A strong need for a bakery was expressed during focus group sessions in the Ruhiira community. Currently, the closest bakery is 11.5 km away but due to the poor roads, lack of transportation and Ruhiira’s high elevation, it is difficult for Ruhiira residents to obtain baked goods in a timely manner or at a reasonable price. 

The objectives for our third goal are to:

  1. promote economic empowerment via the young women earning a salary
  2. provide leadership skills through the partnership with technical experts from the business development sector of Millennium Villages Project in Ruhiira

The involvement of young women in the bakery operations reaches beyond their individual improvement to also improve the lives of their children. The bakery also allows these young women to make a positive contribution to their community.

Photo credit: © Tom Chance/Westend61/Corbis

In addition to providing economic opportunities for these young women out of school, our third goal includes an income-generating activity for the girls still in school. We have built chicken coops at five of the community schools that will be maintained by schoolgirls actively participating in the SEL curriculum sessions. By managing these chicken coops, the girls are able to sell eggs to the bakery and others in the community as well as gain an understanding of small business management.

The chicken coop profits are pooled and used to buy sanitary pads and undergarments that many of the girls in school cannot afford on their own. The chicken coop enterprise is essential in order for young girls in the Ruhiira villages cluster to have economic opportunities and alternative methods of earning money for school and out-of-pocket expenses. Along with the skills they learn from the empowerment curriculum, this business enterprise will help protect them from being susceptible to cross-generational sex.