Camfed: the Social Innovation Organisation Educating Girls in Africa

Educating girls is one of the fastest ways to alleviate poverty worldwide. Camfed is a real social innovation organisation making that difference. Since 1998 it has provided funding for more than 66,000 children to attend primary and secondary school in Ghana. It believes it has found a way to supplement the poor quality education on offer in state-run schools in this country. In 2002 it created a "Cama network" of Camfed alumni, which brings together young women who have graduated with its support. Cama is the largest network of its kind in Africa, spurring remarkable change as young women from rural communities use their education to benefit others.

Cama members are able to access skills training on financial literacy, business, leadership and life skills through the network's twice-monthly meetings. Since last year, those who complete training are eligible for "social innovation bursaries," a Camfed/Mastercard Foundation collaboration that offers small grants to female entrepreneurs to kick-start their businesses, together with work experience in relevant industries. Camfed has announced that since the first nine bursaries were awarded in Ghana last September 2011, six women have now launched businesses and all are turning a profit.

Young women from rural communities have personally experienced many of the world’s biggest challenges including food insecurity, unemployment, power shortages, HIV, malaria, and human rights abuses. Their personal knowledge and understanding is a powerful basis on which to engage with the world’s decision‐makers in the search for global social innovation solutions.

Camfed works to support young women to build their confidence and advocacy skills and to identify opportunities for them to engage with policymakers at the national and international level. Cama members have recently spoken on global platforms including President Obama’s Future of Africa Forum. In fact 24 year old Abigail Kaindu, a former Camfed bursary student has been appointed to a top-level panel that will directly advise the UN Secretary General on global education policy. Abigail is one of just ten young people selected from around the world for the UN’s Youth Advocacy Group.

In sub-Saharan Africa, 24 million girls can't afford to go to school. A girl may marry as young as 13 and has a one in 22 chance of dying in childbirth. One in six of her children will die before the age of five. Research shows when you educate a girl in Africa, everything changes. She’ll be three times less likely to get HIV/AIDS, earn 25 percent more income and have a smaller, healthier family...which is why the work of Camfed is vital.

Photo Credit: Camfed Website

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