Scaling Across Africa

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We can’t end extreme poverty
alone—it takes a village.

There are over 400 million people living in extreme poverty in Africa, and climate change, conflict, and other shocks threaten to add millions more each year.

That’s why we’re working with governments, NGOs, United Nations agencies, development partners, and private sector companies to forge a united front against extreme poverty. By partnering to take collective action and scale our poverty graduation program across the continent, we’re on a mission to empower millions of women, refugees, and youth to launch sustainable businesses, permanently break the cycle of extreme poverty, and build a brighter, more prosperous future in Africa.

Learn more about how we’re partnering with African governments to scale our model, working in refugee settlements with Mercy Corps to prove there’s a better way to support displaced populations, and innovating with digital technologies in rural Africa.

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Partnering with African Governments

African governments are best equipped with the mandate, infrastructure, and systems to end extreme poverty in Africa, but they lack the technical know-how of our world-class team. By integrating our poverty graduation model into their social protection programs and training government officials and parasocial workers on how to implement our approach, we have the potential to reach millions more women, men, and children living in extreme poverty.

Taddeo Muriuki, Chief Government Relations Officer, explains more about our work with African governments.

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Kenya Social and Economic Inclusion Project (KSEIP)

Over the last four years, Village Enterprise has been working alongside the Government of Kenya to integrate our poverty graduation model into their existing social protection programs. Funded by the World Bank, and in collaboration with the Global Development Incubator and BOMA, KSEIP is now entering its final pilot stage. In the months ahead, Village Enterprise will provide technical assistance to the government as they begin scaling our model. Depending on the success of the final pilot stage and the resources available, the Government of Kenya hopes to expand KSEIP to support millions of Kenyans with a reliable and sustainable pathway out of extreme poverty.

Esther Kisavi, KSEIP Mentor Supervisor, talks about the impact she’s seen through KSEIP.

Mercy’s Story

After a health issue caused Mercy to fall into extreme poverty, she launched her dream business through KSEIP.

Scaling Sustainable Poverty Graduation in Rwanda

Funded by a $6.5 million grant from USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures (DIV), Village Enterprise is working with the Government of Rwanda toward their vision of ending extreme poverty in the country by 2030. This three-year, results-based grant is the second biggest in DIV’s history and their largest in over a decade. It will enable Village Enterprise to expand into four districts in northern Rwanda and train Rwandan Government staff on our poverty graduation approach, including the deployment of a management information system to track quality of delivery, with the goal of supporting the government in adopting our model and scaling it themselves.

The project will drive our direct implementation efforts to work with 22,900 households, with an additional 8,100 households reached through pilot programming initiated by the Government of Rwanda. Village Enterprise will also work with the government to raise an additional $28 million to support their nationwide adoption and scaling of a poverty graduation program, intending to move more than one million Rwandans out of extreme poverty by 2027 and with the ultimate goal of ending extreme poverty in Rwanda.

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Photo credit: The Life You Can Save
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Photo credit: The Life You Can Save
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Photo credit: Jjumba Martin for Mercy Corps
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Supporting Refugees through DREAMS

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Jjumba Martin for Mercy Corps
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Jjumba Martin for Mercy Corps
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Jjumba Martin for Mercy Corps
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Delivering Resilient Enterprises and Market Systems (DREAMS)

Through DREAMS, we’re on a mission to sustainably help millions of refugees overcome extreme poverty and rebuild their lives. Whereas many refugee relief programs provide short-term aid that can vanish at a moment’s notice, DREAMS is a long-term, holistic solution that combines Village Enterprise’s poverty graduation model with Mercy Corps’ expertise in market systems development. As DREAMS equips refugees with the training and resources to become entrepreneurs, it also simultaneously enhances the markets and value chains where they live—ensuring refugees have everything they need to launch thriving businesses.

It was a big year for DREAMS—not only did the program win Fast Company’s World Changing Ideas Award for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, but operations have officially expanded to the Dollo Ado Refugee Settlement in Ethiopia, where our first cohort of 1,200 businesses are undergoing training and business mentoring. In Uganda, DREAMS has already equipped 4,800 entrepreneurs, impacting over 30,000 lives to date.

In total, DREAMS will transform the lives of more than 200,000 women, men, and children in Uganda and Ethiopia. With our partners at Mercy Corps, we’re also actively exploring other regions and countries in Africa where DREAMS could empower more refugees and other populations living in extreme poverty on their journeys back to prosperity and hope.

MEDIA COVERAGE

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Winnie Auma, Chief Program Officer, explains more about the importance of DREAMS and what’s next.

Susan’s Story

After fleeing the war in South Sudan, Susan arrived with her children at a refugee camp in Uganda and was provided only a single tarp for shelter. But through DREAMS, she’s built a new life and home for her family.

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Prioritizing Digital Solutions in Rural Africa

Breaking the cycle of poverty drives everything we do. That’s why we’re relentless about ensuring that our entrepreneurs have the best tools and resources to launch successful, sustainable businesses. One of the exciting ways we’re doing this is by partnering with DreamStart Labs to pilot their DreamSave app—which won two Fast Company World Changing Ideas Awards for Best Finance App and Best Developing World App.

Meshack Mbinda, Senior Director of Technology Solutions, explains the importance of digital solutions in rural Africa.

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DreamSave

DreamSave enables our business savings groups to securely store their savings records on the cloud using a smartphone, instead of the paper books that they traditionally used in the past. The app also allows entrepreneurs to set projected savings targets, assess loan eligibility, and check on their progress to repay loans or reach financial goals in real time. All of this builds a credit history which our entrepreneurs can show to formal financial service entities, bolstering opportunities to secure larger loans and grow their businesses even further. We are currently piloting the app across 12 communities in Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda, and because of the exciting results we are seeing across all regions, we are planning to implement DreamSave in every Village Enterprise business savings group by 2025.

Lotorupe’s Story

In rural West Pokot, Kenya, DreamSave has helped Lotorupe meet and exceed her savings targets, creating a brighter future for her eight children.