This month, we’re celebrating International Women’s Day by donating £1 from all sales of our El Triunfo limited edition coffee to Hand in Hand International, an NGO working to empower women entrepreneurs. Today, we have a guest blog from Hand in Hand’s Celia Frankel, who explains why this cause is so worth supporting.

Fighting poverty through female entrepreneurship

At 60, when most of us are thinking about slowing down, Alice Maina, a farmer living in a rural hamlet north of Nairobi, Kenya, could not afford to. “Ten shillings used to buy me flour, sugar, tomatoes and even milk,” says Alice, “but now it hardly buys me anything.”

Without a safety net to fall back on, things were looking dire. Then Hand in Hand arrived in her village and taught her that her small patch of ancestral land, which she used to grow vegetables for herself and her husband, could go a lot further.

Alice Maina with her crops

Trying something new

Look at poverty differently and you’ll see grassroots entrepreneurs, full of energy and ideas. Hand in Hand’s package of group savings, business and skills training, access to finance and links to bigger markets helps turn their potential into jobs. They find a way out of poverty.

Alice is a perfect case in point. After joining a Hand in Hand Self-Help Group and receiving lessons about how to turn her farm into a business, she borrowed from her group savings fund to buy piri piri chilli seeds, knowing the small peppers fetch a good price on the local market. With the profits she earned, she invested in a greenhouse to create a successful crop of tomatoes.

Today, she earns KES 20,000 (US $231) a month – enough to feed herself and her husband, plus send her granddaughter to school.

Many hands make light work

Alice is just one of almost 3 million members Hand in Hand has trained across Asia and Africa since launching in 2003, transforming more than 15 million lives. With a focus on scale and return, 90 percent of funds raised are spent directly on programmes.

Empowered women equals powerful change

Lifting up women means lifting up whole villages. This is because for every pound they earn, women spend 90p on their families and communities compared to just 40p by men. Like Alice, that means investing in education for their children or grandchildren, spending on medical costs and expanding their businesses further.

Hand in Hand needs your support to help other women like Alice lift up their villages. To find out more, please sign up to our newsletter or visit our website.