Entrepreneurship in Nigeria
Located in West Africa, Nigeria is one of the poorest countries in the world. The Federal Government of Nigeria, through a report by the National Bureau of Statistics in 2022, reported that 133 million Nigerians are multidimensionally poor. This accounts for about 63% of the country’s total population. Many cannot afford to fund their basic and essential needs and struggle to make a living every day.

One fundamental cause of poverty in Nigeria is the lack of employment. In March 2022, Professor Idris Bugaje, the Executive Secretary of the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), reported that about 90 million Nigerian youths are unemployed. Many Nigerians do not have an education which makes it challenging for them to obtain jobs. Without employment, people often cannot be financially secure or meet basic needs. Currently, there are about 159 polytechnics and 221 universities in Nigeria, which produce up to 500,000 graduates every year with no jobs in the labor market. There are not enough job opportunities in the country even for those who have an education. However, entrepreneurship in Nigeria has proven to be effective in the reduction of unemployment.

Entrepreneurship in Nigeria

Through Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), entrepreneurship in Nigeria has contributed immensely to the economy. In fact, Vannesa Lerato Phala, the Country Director of the International Labour Congress said at the opening session of a workshop that took place in November 2022, at Abuja, that “In Nigeria, SMEs contribute 48% of national GDP, account for 96% of businesses and 84% of employment. This sector contributes significantly to alleviating poverty and increasing job creation.”

Entrepreneurs create employment opportunities for themselves as well as for others. Entrepreneurship in Nigeria impacts the country’s economic growth by bringing new products, techniques and processes to the market and also extensively increases productivity and competition amongst producers of goods and services. Many Nigerians now possess at least one entrepreneurial skill with which they are able to sponsor the lifestyle they wish to live. The government has helped increase awareness of the importance of entrepreneurship in Nigeria by introducing entrepreneurship studies as a compulsory course in higher institutions and establishing and supporting some programs that promote skill acquisition. Here are three entrepreneurship programs promoting entrepreneurship in Nigeria.

3 Entrepreneurship Programs Promoting Entrepreneurship in Nigeria

  1. The Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme (YEDP): YEDP launched on March 15, 2016. It aims to promote resourcefulness by providing capital to youth entrepreneurs and start-ups that often face problems of inadequacy and high costs. Target beneficiaries of the program are graduates who are members of or have completed their service with the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) after five years or less or those who possess a verifiable tertiary institution certificate. Beneficiaries also include artisans with a First School Leaving Certificate or a technical certificate or accredited proficiency certificate from the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE).
  2. The Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN) Entrepreneurship Training Programme: The Development Bank of Nigeria has aimed to reduce the constraints that MSMEs face in Nigeria by providing loans and risk management tools. The DBN Entrepreneurship Training Programme began in 2019 to implement MSMEs with the prerequisites necessary for business growth and success. The training is usually open to business owners who are 18 years old and above, and are legal citizens of Nigeria.
  3. FGN Special Intervention Fund For MSMEs (National Enterprise Development Programme): This is an initiative of the Federal Government of Nigeria targeted toward the provision of subsidized loans to MSMEs with 9% interest only. In order to promote and encourage the impact of MSMEs, which are engaged in manufacturing and agro-processing, on the economy of the country, the Federal Government of Nigeria established the Special Intervention Fund in 2015 to give funds necessary for local raw materials. With this program, SMEs can receive funding of up to 20 million Naira, for people to pay back with only 9% interest per annum.

Looking Ahead

With so many skills that entrepreneurs in Nigeria engage in, they have slowly proven to be the major drivers of job creation, wealth creation and industrialization. By promoting entrepreneurship in Nigeria, the government encourages those who are underprivileged, and without funds, to go ahead and pitch their business ideas for funding, this has resulted in significant progress in the country’s economy over the years.

– Oluwagbohunmi Bajela
Photo: Flickr

Female Entrepreneurship
Female entrepreneurship has great potential for poverty reduction in the developing world, helping women support themselves and their families. By becoming entrepreneurs, women can contribute to economies through “innovation, employment and the creation of wealth,” an OECD policy brief states. However, women are underrepresented in the entrepreneurial sector and often run “smaller and less dynamic businesses than men.” Women also tend to run businesses in “non-capital intensive sectors, including personal services,” which have “lower potential for generating a high and sustainable income,” according to the OECD. Women also face a multitude of challenges that hinder their full entrepreneurial potential.

Trends in Female Entrepreneurship

Female entrepreneurship rates are higher in developing nations compared to developed ones. This is because women face increased difficulties in entering “the formal labor market,” thus, many women turn to entrepreneurship as an opportunity to address both unemployment and poverty.

Interestingly, “Larger gender gaps in start-up activity are found in middle-income countries, whereas they tend to be narrower in lower-income countries probably because many women start businesses out of necessity,” an article by Maria Minniti and Wim Naudé explains. Furthermore, women in these lower-income countries tend to be more self-assured in their abilities to start such ventures and are less deterred by possible business failure than women in higher-income countries.

Remarkably, research has found that in developing regions, female entrepreneurship rates are the highest. In the developing world, there are as many as “10 million formal small and medium enterprises (SMEs)” with at least “one female owner,” the World Bank reports.

A 2021-22 report by Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) report stated that four out of five women in the Middle East and Africa recalled starting entrepreneurial ventures due to “job scarcity.” In particular, Sudan showed the highest rates of female entrepreneurship and Morocco showed the lowest.

Challenges That Female Entrepreneurs Face

Worldwide, in a developed or developing region, entrepreneurs face numerous challenges. However, these challenges and barriers are more significant for women.

  • The impact of culture and society. Negative stereotypes persist despite the substantial advancement of women within the labor market. The construction of entrepreneurship as a “masculine” undertaking has profound implications for women. One of the most important is that it lowers the level of legitimacy of female entrepreneurs’ work, thereby affecting the market position of their business along with their resource mobilization. Traditional gender expectations limit the “full realization of their entrepreneurial potential,” according to the OECD.
  • Entrepreneurship skills. Women tend to doubt their entrepreneurial skills and abilities more than men do. Furthermore, women find that entrepreneurship skills training programs are difficult to access. Although their education levels mirror or exceed those that men possessed, women often “lack experience in self-employment” and encounter “fewer opportunities” to hold management positions, which “acts as a barrier to gaining management experience and skills that can be used in entrepreneurship,” the OECD says.
  • Accessing finance. Women have greater difficulty accessing financial resources for their businesses compared to men. These barriers arise due to “lower levels of entrepreneurial experience, participation in more marginal female-dominated sectors, gender-biased credit scoring and gender stereotyping in the lending process,” the OECD explains. As such, female entrepreneurs usually start their ventures with less funding and are “more reliant on self-funding.”
  • Support networks. Unlike their male counterparts, female entrepreneurs “tend to have entrepreneurial networks that are smaller and less diverse.” Women entrepreneurs’ networks typically include family and friends “rather than business services providers or other entrepreneurs.” This can impede the expansion and development of ventures, restricting female entrepreneurs’ access to persons who can provide critical business advice and support.

Successful Female Changemakers in Developing Countries

Jamila Mayanja founded Smart Girls Uganda in 2012 to “tackle the female unemployment rate and train young women to grow their skillset[s],” according to Elle magazine. Her business supports women to become “innovators and solution solvers” and gain financial autonomy. She says “One of the biggest causes of gender-based violence is the power the men have over the women when it comes to money.” Annually, the organization trains and supports 150-200 females through economic initiatives.

As a university student, Zuhura Abdul Sakaya co-founded Youth For Change Tanzania in 2019 as a way to end gender-based violence. Growing up in poverty, Sakaya witnessed her mother’s abuse at the hands of her father. The goal of the organization is to provide women with opportunities for empowerment and economic independence. By engaging the power of traditional and digital media, action networks and coalitions, Youth for Change is able to effect transformation.

Encouraging Female Entrepreneurship

In 2022, the Jammu and Kashmir Rural Livelihoods Mission (UMEED) helped 400,000 women in 48,000 Self Help Groups access capital for entrepreneurship endeavors. The Jammu and Kashmir government is committed to assisting these women to re-skill or obtain new skills through mentorship opportunities in order to help the women entrepreneurs expand their markets.

The World Bank avidly supports female entrepreneurship in developing nations and sees it as a viable route to encourage economic expansion and reduce poverty. Policies that encourage ventures, such as credit access facilitation and business development programs, have the potential to close the gender pay gap for poor women. Supporting female entrepreneurship is one of the key ways to help women rise out of poverty. Despite the challenges, such initiatives ensure that women become empowered and independent.

– Harkiran Bharij
Photo: Flickr

Empowering Women in Bangladesh
Women are pushing for representation in many fields, including education, technology, architecture, fashion, health care, journalism and sports. Every year, an increasing number of female entrepreneurs enter the market and significantly contribute to the global economy. Women’s enterprises in Bangladesh are gradually developing to have a similar stream of development potential. However, women in entrepreneurship are not as prevalent in Bangladesh, where women own just 7.2% of all businesses.

Nevertheless, the situation is slowly evolving, and more Bangladeshi women are entering the corporate sphere as leaders, opening the path for thousands of others by motivating and mentoring them. One of the recent highlights of this development was the Women Entrepreneurship Training Program by BRAC University, called Venture Maestras. The initiative aims to promote gender equality and empower women entrepreneurs, in line with the U.N.’s fifth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG). The Venture Maestras Program gives theoretical underpinnings and techniques for tackling business challenges that women encounter and a practical understanding of the real-world market. Here are more details about how Venture Maestras is empowering women in Bangladesh.

The Program’s Mission

This program’s purpose is to make significant contributions to empowering women in Bangladesh. Additionally, the future vision is to achieve gender equality and sustainable, long-term prosperity for the nation and its global status. Venture Maestras has three core objectives. Firstly, it is empowering women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh by offering information, skills and training to enrich their competence. It also works on providing continuous support services for various projects that participants undertake and doing research to promote gender equality and the long-term well-being of all Bangladeshis. Moreover, the program focuses on creating awareness of opportunities in business fields and motivating women to engage in such activities.

A Vision Beyond the Program Itself

Bringing awareness and equality in a closed-door room does not help much when it concerns the entire nation. It takes tremendous effort to grow the network to a size where it is able to spread the word to every corner of the country. As a result, the program works on building an effective network between established women entrepreneurs, which helps the women share their knowledge and aid. Secondly, it includes significant research and case studies on economic and social issues that affect many women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh. These studies help innovate business ideas and bring solutions to decades-old problems. Finally, all the connections with public, private and non-government organizations help to reach a broader audience.

How the Program is Managed

The pilot program starts with an orientation where the participants can engage in discussions with successful female entrepreneurs. Subsequent sessions cover the business canvas model and entrepreneurial skills, including HR management, digital marketing and many legal aspects. The program also includes loan and financial management lessons. At the end of the program, participants present their business proposals to a panel of experts for evaluation. The program doe not include any special requirements other than a high school level education and the intention to start or manage one’s own enterprises. After the program ends, the top three finalists receive 100,000 BDT as an award, which is roughly $1,000 USD.

According to the BRAC Business School, the participants greatly benefited from the program’s offerings. According to the survey, entrepreneurs found some training sessions more effective than others, with training in the business canvas model, marketing and digital marketing being the top choices. Without entrepreneurial support, the country will fail to see any industrial breakthrough – even when there is technical progress. However, with these kinds of programs and training, Bangladesh can become a strong participant in the global market.

– Zahin Tasnin
Photo: Flickr

Women Entrepreneurs in South Asia
The COVID-19 pandemic has catalyzed significant growth in global e-commerce sales. As a result of pandemic regulations, such as lockdown, social distancing and the enclosure of in-person workspaces, people are becoming increasingly reliant on digital technologies and businesses. In fact, retail e-commerce sales surged to approximately $4.9 trillion in 2021 worldwide. Projections have stated that this figure could increase to $7.4 trillion by 2025. The boom in e-commerce has been particularly salient in South Asia, where the e-commerce sector saw nearly 600% growth. Such conditions gave many entrepreneurs unprecedented opportunities. Most notably, women entrepreneurs in South Asia have used these opportunities to not only realize their own visions but also to educate and inspire others to create tangible change. The following are three women entrepreneurs in South Asia proactively giving back to their communities:

Maheen Adamjee

Maheen Adamjee is the founder of Dot & Line, an education startup originally set to provide at-home tutoring to Pakistani students. As the pandemic hit, however, Adamjee saw the opportunity in e-learning and rewrote the startup’s business plan to offer online tutoring sessions. Dot & Line is now a successful international online learning platform that matches students with certified tutors.

Adamjee exemplifies entrepreneurial creativity and resilience, turning the COVID-19 pandemic from a risk factor into a business opportunity. She has since participated in #OneSouthAsia Conversation, a series of online events that offer a platform for discussing ideas for regional cooperation in business, and reached more than 5,000 women through this medium. During these conferences, Adamjee shared many practical tips she extrapolated from her own experience, including specificities on transitioning from in-person services to online services.

She further noted the cultural and financial barriers that prevent Pakistani women from starting a business. In addition to telling her story as a source of empowerment for other women entrepreneurs, Adamjee pointed out that the digital economy allows women to overcome tariffs and trade barriers to exploit new consumer groups across national boundaries.

Ayanthi Gurusinghe

Ayanthi Gurusinghe is the founder of Cord360.com, a B2B platform enabling small buyers and sellers of a variety of products to connect with each other, according to the World Bank. Gurusinghe, like Adamjee, identified the rapid growth of e-commerce as an unparalleled opportunity for trading across borders.

Hoping to help other women take advantage of this opportunity, Gurusinghe launched training courses on Cord360.com to educate enterprising women business owners about international markets. This way, she is encouraging more women to trade products across Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan.

Sairee Chahal

Sairee Chahal is the founder of SHEROES, an online community for women that offers career advice, job leads, training, legal advice and a free counseling hotline based in Bangladesh and India. The community operates in Bangladesh and India, among other countries. The site experienced enormous success during the pandemic, with its membership increasing from 16 million to 22 million.

Chahal also participated in the #OneSouthAsia Conversation series. During the conference, she noted the policy changes that needed to occur to support and empower women entrepreneurs. Not only would this be beneficial for the women business owners, but this would also offer enormous economic growth for the countries in question. In particular, Chahal noted that the government ought to reform discriminatory laws and policies, provide funding targeted toward women-owned businesses and create school textbooks that show women in a variety of careers.

In addition to using these women’s stories as inspiration for more women to tap into the world of e-commerce, the above-mentioned women entrepreneurs in South Asia are acting to create tangible change in their communities, whether by advocating for policy change in regional conferences or providing free guidance through their business platforms. Through their efforts, as well as the efforts of many other similar-minded businesswomen, the pandemic-induced boom in the digital economy could significantly increase women’s access to the business sector in South Asia.

– Emily Xin
Photo: Flickr

Young African Entrepreneurs
Boost Africa is an initiative that partnered with the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) in 2017. The initiative seeks to identify and realize new ways of supporting job creation, poverty alleviation and sustainable economic growth in African countries to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Boost Africa currently receives funding support from the European Commission and the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States Secretariat to help young Africans and help young African entrepreneurs.

Mission Statement

Africa, with its young population, houses many of the world’s fastest-growing economies. However, graduates choose to work abroad after finishing their studies. This stunts the continent’s great potential for economic progress and people often refer to it as brain drain. Boost Africa seeks to resolve this challenge by creating attractive job opportunities for young Africans and empowering young African entrepreneurs.

In particular, it seeks to tackle the issue of brain drain from the angle of entrepreneurship and innovation. The initiative believes in the possibility of improving living standards by funding affordable access to energy, healthcare, financial services, education and internet connectivity. To do so, the initiative focuses on supporting start-ups, which would further democratize the economy to allow and attract young individuals from all social backgrounds to participate in and benefit from the continent’s growing economy, according to AfDB.

Boost Africa summarizes its mission in the following actionable steps: enabling entrepreneurship and innovation, developing the skills and expertise of young entrepreneurs, creating quality jobs and addressing the financial gap in the early stages of business creation.

The initiative mainly funds sectors where innovation has the greatest potential to improve the quality of life by providing access to affordable services. Such sectors include information technology, agribusiness, financial services, health, education and renewable energy, AfDB stated. Boost Africa has a special interest in start-ups that have youth and women as final beneficiaries.

Program Components

According to AfDB, Boost Africa has three main components: the Investment Programme, the Technical Assistance Pool and the Innovation and Information Lab.

The Investment Programme covers the entire venture segment, from seed funds and incubators to accelerators and business angel funds. More specifically, the Programme targets ecosystem builders that promote the health of the entrepreneurial ecosystem by promoting creativity and innovation. Both the AfDB and the EIB fund the Programme and collectively contribute €50 million. Third-party investors and investors through financial intermediaries are also eligible to co-invest.

The Technical Assistance Pool focuses on instilling best practices in investing. It seeks to do so by improving the investment readiness of fund managers, training entrepreneurs in the technical aspects of investments and creating investors’ networks for business angels.

The Information Lab is Boost Africa’s incubator for innovation and partnerships. In addition to helping individual entrepreneurs develop their ideas, it will work with local governments to put in place best practices for entrepreneurial ecosystem interventions.

The Impact

Four years into the initiative, Boost Africa has contributed significantly to job creation and economic growth across Africa and in particular, rendered entrepreneurial finance more accessible. The initiative has provided more than €300 million to fund start-ups and provide technical assistance to entrepreneurs. To date, more than 1,080 businesses and 3,267 business owners have benefited from the initiative’s resources. Boost Africa has moreover enabled many young African women to enter the entrepreneur field, with more than 50% of the created jobs benefiting women.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the European Union has pledged to commit €60 million to support the sectors that the unprecedented economic, social and health challenges most affected.

From its wide-ranging impact, Boost Africa has proved to be more than a simple financing opportunity for young African entrepreneurs. The initiative deliberately focuses on African youth and specifically, young African women. This makes Boost Africa as socially motivated as it is economically motivated. In addition to advancing the development of the African economy, Boost Africa is reducing socioeconomic and gender gaps in African employment, thereby contributing greatly to the continent’s social progress.

– Emily Xin
Photo: Pexels

In the past decade, microfinance has soared as a strategy to alleviate poverty. BRAC International, one of the world’s largest nongovernmental organizations, supports microfinancing in seven countries in Africa and Asia. Importantly, BRAC’s microfinance program supports people to engage in financial activity to overcome poverty.


Microfinance is a financial practice that lends small sums to people with few means to support their small businesses. The goal is for small businesses to earn a profit and then pay back the loan. The microfinance institution then loans the capital out again. Through this cycle, people are able to rise out of poverty. Microfinancing frames poverty as the deprivation of the ability to participate in economic and political processes. By that logic, if people can obtain microloans, these individuals will engage in financial activity and overcome poverty.

Studies have only found limited evidence of the efficacy of microfinancing at eradicating poverty. However, the practice is far from a failure. Specifically, the capital lent to the impoverished provides stability in their lives, easing the day-to-day anxiety about monetary shortages. In addition, studies have found that people who take out microloans are motivated to invest more time into their businesses. Though not miraculously transformative, microfinancing has achieved overall positive results in reducing poverty.

BRAC Programs

Sir Fazle Hasan Abed founded BRAC in 1972 to help refugees from the Bangladesh Liberation War. Since then, BRAC has created eight programs to empower people suffering from poverty, social injustice, illiteracy and disease. Microfinance is one of the eight programs of the organization. BRAC believes that the financial inclusion of impoverished people and communities is an essential step toward ending poverty.

More than 660,000 people benefit from BRAC’s microfinance program, which operates in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Along with loans, BRAC also provides financial literacy training to the borrowers. This teaches borrowers to be responsible with money and make better financial decisions. In addition to microfinance services, the organization also provides communities with programs like agriculture classes, youth education and health care. When paired with these programs, microfinance has an even greater impact on communities.

BRAC’s Focus on Women

More than 96% of BRAC’s borrowers are women. One female entrepreneur, Kadiatu Conteh from Sierra Leone, exemplifies how BRAC impacts its beneficiaries. Conteh’s sister introduced her to BRAC. At the time, Conteh’s family was struggling to make ends meet and she was trying to earn money by selling drinks with only a cooler. Conteh took out a loan and invested the money in more beverages for her business. Slowly, she increased her profits. After four years with BRAC, she accumulated enough funds to invest in her own store where she now sells household items.

Selina Karoli Fissoo also benefited from BRAC’s microfinance program. With other women in the city of Arusha, Tanzania, Fissoo formed a microfinance group to receive loans and financial literacy training from BRAC. She invested her first loan into her small grocery business, and as her profits increased, she applied for larger loans. After more than 10 years of working with BRAC, Fissoo has a large retail store and even dabbles in poultry farming.

The Benefits of Microfinance to Alleviate Poverty

Conteh and Fissoo are just two of hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs who have prospered from the help of BRAC’s microfinance programs. Microloans provide stability in the lives of the impoverished and can motivate people to invest more time into their businesses. Especially when coupled with other programs, microfinance is an effective method for alleviating poverty.

– Alison Ding
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Entrepreneurs in Liberia
Women who live in rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa are more likely than their male counterparts to suffer from poverty. These women are unable to achieve their full potential due to inequalities. Because of this and a lack of resources, women have no other choice but to live in poverty. Structural poverty affects women in sub-Saharan Africa. This poverty stems from the economic, social and political background of the country. In 2018, Liberia ranked 155th out of 162 countries on the Gender Inequality Index. Despite these challenges, many women are turning into entrepreneurs in Liberia through the help of the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC).

The Situation

In rural areas of Liberia, women make up 60% of the population and stand as the backbones of the community. Despite continuous contributions to their families and the economy, women’s hard work rarely benefits them. Their work continuously goes unnoticed and bears no reward in the areas they live in. Agriculture and forestry are the foundations of Liberia’s economy. Women make up more than half of the agricultural workers. With no time for education, they end up vulnerable to the possibility of poverty. Household chores, caretaking and tasks such as fetching water, fuel and fodder take up the time of women.

How BRAC Helps Women Become Entrepreneurs in Liberia

With a mission to help, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed founded a nonprofit organization, the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC), in 1972 to empower people in poverty. Its mission is to empower people and communities in situations of poverty, illiteracy, disease and social injustice. This humanitarian movement has had an impact on Liberian women. About 750 women in Liberia received training to help them overcome poverty as part of BRAC’s Ultra-Poor Graduation Program.

With a focus on women, the approach successfully aided 750 Liberian women in becoming microentrepreneurs. The graduation approach of the program provides “consumption support” at the beginning of the program until students can afford food, a safe place to store their savings, training according to their aspirations and asset transfer. Lastly, the students go through technical and life skills training.

Improvement is Possible

As of 2021, 90% of the Liberian households participating in the BRAC program have multiple sources of income, savings have increased by $9.14, average loan size jumped from $17.10 to $57.14 and the average nutritious meal consumed has grown as well. The improvements are all results of the power of women and the well-deserved push the program gave them. The once poverty-stricken women that lived on less than $1 a day are now entrepreneurs in Liberia with their own businesses. Other women run farms and breed livestock for a living. All it took was a helping hand.

The Importance of BRAC in Liberia

The purpose of BRAC programs is to reduce poverty — these initiatives serve as stepping stones for the betterment of Liberia. The effect of BRAC programs spans 12 Liberian counties and serves several other countries around the world.

BRAC programs alone have ensured that 23.9% of participants have access to adequate amounts of food and increased monthly income by 36.8% after two years. Aside from improving food security, BRAC also provides employment opportunities. Out of 494 BRAC staff members, 94% of them are Liberians and 30% of the management team are women. Organizations like BRAC are useful in providing education, jobs, empowerment and livelihoods to the community. Although BRAC Liberia only began in 2008, it is continuing its mission to reduce poverty in Liberia.

– Destiny Jackson
Photo: Flickr

Bees Reduce PovertyBees are an essential part of global agricultural systems. Additionally, bees reduce poverty around the world as they are responsible for pollinating 80% of the world’s plant species, including 90 different types of crops.

Study by the FAO

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) studied 344 plots of land in parts of Africa, Latin America and Asia. The plots revealed a positive correlation between the number of bees that visited a particular plot of land and its agricultural productivity. For small farms with a landmass of fewer than two hectares, the study concluded that farmers could increase their crop production by an average of 24% by increasing pollinator traffic.

The results of the FAO study could affect approximately two billion farmers worldwide. Because of their importance to agricultural production, increasing the number of bees on agrarian lands could improve global food security. Bees also provide a valuable way to reduce rates of poverty. Bees can be especially valuable to people living in rural poverty, a very important issue to address as approximately 63% of people in poverty worldwide live in rural areas.

5 Ways Bees Reduce Poverty

  1. Beekeeping helps households increase their income. Rural families living in regions with poor agricultural yields may struggle to make ends meet. However, raising bees can help these families earn more money. In addition to potentially increasing their annual crop production, bees produce honey and beeswax which families can sell. For example, Bees Abroad and the Poverty Abroad for the Poor Initiative taught farmers living in extreme poverty how to run bee farms. As a result of this training, 30 of those farmers went on to run their own bee farms afterward, which helped increase their incomes.
  2. Beekeeping creates opportunities for entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs use bee by-products to make commodities such as shoe polish, candles and ointments. More importantly, beekeeping presents opportunities for entrepreneurship, which helps people escape poverty and support themselves and their families. Entrepreneurs are finding ways they can use bees to reduce poverty and improve living conditions.
  3. Food insecurity and poverty are linked. Poverty is the main driving factor behind food insecurity worldwide. Across the world, roughly 80% of chronically undernourished people live in rural areas of developing countries, making food insecurity a particularly important aspect of ending rural poverty. Increasing bee populations can enhance food security by increasing crop yields. By improving food security, bees reduce poverty in a way that is especially beneficial to rural communities.
  4. Beekeeping is an effective form of occupational therapy. Occupational therapy helps people with disabilities accomplish goals such as working and attending school. People with disabilities are disproportionately affected by poverty, which makes addressing their needs critical to reducing poverty. Additionally, inaccessible work and education opportunities are major contributing factors to this problem, which occupational therapy can help address. Fortunately, beekeeping requires little capital and helps occupational therapy participants become financially independent, making it an effective form of occupational therapy.
  5. Protecting the global environment keeps people out of poverty. Environmental degradation can increase levels of poverty. For example, the loss of natural resources to environmental degradation leaves communities with fewer means to support themselves. However, bees are critical pollinators that support ecosystems and natural resources across the globe. Additionally, bees can even improve habitat restoration efforts. So, by preserving and restoring vital resources, bees reduce poverty.

Overall, bees provide unique benefits that have the potential to reduce global poverty. By garnering the help of pollinators, impoverished communities can rise out of poverty.

– Caroline Kuntzman
Photo: Flickr

Chamas in Kenya
A chama is a micro-saving society that groups of Kenyans use to pool savings. Beginning in the 1960s, chamas in Kenya have become impressive tools of economic empowerment that follow the spirit of harambee, the Kiswahili word for ‘all pull together.’ Their community approach helps alleviate poverty by providing a means to pay tuition for children, make small-scale investments in community development, buy household items and more. More than 40% of Kenyans are chama members.

A Communal Economic Model

To form a chama, a group of around 15-35 people come together through mutual trust and pay a certain amount of money every week or month. The group then uses the money to offer very low-interest loans to members. Additionally, the group may decide to invest in an asset that members can own collectively, such as a piece of land, or in an industry, such as horticulture.

Chama members understand that fighting poverty must go hand-in-hand with psychosocial well-being. They provide each other with access to employment, help when a member gets sick, support at funerals and are joyful at weddings.

Chamas Help Avoid Economic Crisis

Chamas have been vital in helping Kenyans avoid economic crises. In the 1990s, many of Kenya’s informal retailers had to close down their businesses as their suppliers became too expensive due to the liberalization of the economy. Chamas proved tremendously helpful in dealing with rising prices. For example, a group of garment traders created a chama that enabled them to switch to Chinese suppliers and keep their businesses afloat.

Chamas Empower Women

In Kenya, women often have to be financially dependent on men. However, Kenyan women, who make up half the informal sector, have been able to achieve some financial independence thanks to chamas. According to the World Bank, 55% of Kenya’s urban women aged 15-25 are unemployed. Chamas can help them to avoid or escape poverty by securing financial help from their community to become self-employed. All-women chamas like Wikwatyo Wanoliwa (Hope for the Widows) have proven that women are a key demographic in the fight against poverty.

Chamas are also good avenues for community outreach. For instance, in 2017, around 80 women from chamas received training on the Kenyan electoral process and in turn, encouraged thousands of women in their communities to register to vote. Civic education is important in poverty eradication because it empowers women to match their economic decisions in chamas with democratic decisions on the ballot.

Chamas are a creative and resilient way to fight poverty in Kenya. Their intuitive approach to financial security has become so important to the Kenyan financial sector that banks have even started using it as an economic model to lure more clients.

Frank Odhiambo
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Online businesses in GhanaPreviously, issues such as limited internet and bank access and informal home addresses made digital selling challenging for Ghanaian companies. However, advancement in these areas has allowed online businesses to grow, creating jobs in Ghana. Many college graduates in Ghana have started digital companies selling a wide range of products, including bags, footwear, clothes, grocery items, electronic goods and advanced cellular devices, among others. Some start companies also offer services such as repairing, cosmetics, interior decorating and photoshoots digitally. The growth of such companies has enabled them to offer many different types of employment to a greater population in Ghana.

Job Creation

From consumer services to promotions, financing to administrative tasks, retail managing to image consulting, online selling has many job opportunities to offer in Ghana, which had a 4.5% employment rate in 2020. For example, while the digital firm Jumia employs only around 500 people directly in online work, it employs more than 10,000 people indirectly. Online work does not always require people to have advanced technological abilities, only a willingness to learn. Online businesses also create associated non-online jobs.

For example, when people purchase meals and other items digitally, they require delivery. Nowadays, many companies offer delivery by motorcycle or van, creating many delivery jobs. Online businesses in Ghana also provide new jobs through collection posts, which have become more popular during the pandemic. These posts provide a safe and convenient way for customers to collect their goods while minimizing their risk of exposure to COVID-19. Collection posts hire post managers, shipment organizers and receptionists. In addition, some companies, such as Jumia, have encouraged digital businesses to expand by allowing people to collect their online purchases in-store.

Working from Home and New Digitial Stores

Many online businesses offer home-based and other off-site positions. Working from home not only enhances employees’ welfare and decreases stress, but it also helps reduce pollution as fewer people have to travel to work. Virtual connections allow people to associate with a worldwide community and conveniently work and buy what they need without having to travel. Additionally, digital companies can more easily provide short-term work such as contract, part-time and freelance work, which also helps to reduce poverty.

Moreover, in May 2018, a digital food store named Homeshoppa Ghana was introduced in Accra, the country’s capital. Homeshoppa Ghana matches its competitors’ prices in order to provide easily accessible, low-cost, standard groceries to every citizen. Access to stores like Homeshoppa Ghana allows people living in poverty to buy essential items at low prices.

Internet Advancements

The introduction of higher internet speeds and advanced cellphones in Ghana has helped prepare the marketplace for online retailers. By the end of 2017, 10.1 million Ghanaians, or 34%, were using the internet. As of January this year, the number of internet users had increased to 15.7 million. As more people begin to use the internet, online businesses are creating more new jobs in Ghana.

Jannique McDonald
Photo: Unsplash