After women complete our year-long program, we continue to support their journey to empowerment and self-sufficiency through advanced training.
Tailored to the context and the needs of our graduates, our graduate support helps foster continued opportunities for women after they complete the Stronger Women, Stronger Nations program. We know that women may need additional tools to overcome the challenges they face, especially in starting and growing their businesses, after graduation. By connecting women to financial services, advanced business and vocational training, and support networks, we increase opportunities to grow their businesses and unlock their full potential.
We help our graduates in both formal and informal ways. Where women struggle with their businesses, we support them by connecting them with mentorship, advanced training, credit, markets, and new technologies. In several countries, we have launched competitions for women to access microbusiness capital to invest in their businesses. Where women graduates have joined together in savings groups, associations, and cooperatives, we support them with leadership and governance training so they can work together to forge new paths forward for themselves and their communities.
Starting in 2018 in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Rwanda, we started reconnecting with thousands of past graduates of our programs and launched new graduate networking opportunities. The aim was to re-connect with graduates, support networking amongst them, connect them to services and programs, and advocate together for higher-level change. We have found that Stronger Women, Stronger Nations graduates, even from ten to fifteen years prior, are eager to connect and engage. For example, when we launched the graduate networking pilot in Muhanga, Rwanda, staff were overwhelmed by the numbers of women that showed up to be registered. A total of 9,800 Women for Women International graduates gathered in the Muhanga District for registration. In collecting data, our team found that over 3,000 of the graduates had joined or continued their village savings and loan association (VSLA) activities and a total of six cooperatives were led by graduates in the agricultural and handicraft sectors. These are incredible examples of how our program has continued to transform women’s lives over time.
Unis wanted to enroll in the Stronger Women, Stronger Nations program after she heard an announcement made in church. She wanted to learn how to calculate profits and losses, and how to better manage her business. The trainings have helped Unis achieve both goals.