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Unlocking the Potential of Women-led Micro & Small Enterprises: Lessons from the IGNITE project in Pakistan, Peru, and Vietnam

Micro and small enterprises (MSEs) are the economic backbone of most economies worldwide, increasing employment and reinvesting in local communities. In emerging markets, there are 365-445 million micro, small, and medium enterprises. However, 80% of women-owned small businesses with credit needs are either unserved or underserved, representing a $1.7 trillion USD financing gap.

CARE’s Ignite program, launched in partnership with the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, focused on supporting micro and small enterprises, especially those led by women, in Pakistan, Peru, and Vietnam
between 2020 and 2023.

Ignite took a market-based approach to service delivery that was sustainable and scalable by working with over 35 local partners across the three countries, 11 of which were core service delivery partners. These partnerships opened up much-needed access to financial and digital resources, while building entrepreneurs’ business capacity and networks.

Ignite set out to reach 3.9 million entrepreneurs in three years with $5.26 million USD in grant funding from Mastercard. The program exceeded initial goals, reaching more than nine million entrepreneurs, and unlocking access to $154.9 million USD in loans. More than 150,000 entrepreneurs were deeply supported with loans, critical support services, and training.

The commercial value in supporting women-led MSEs is irrefutable. Global data continues to show this and,
together with Ignite financial service provider partners, CARE has proved it. Despite this, gender bias continues to permeate throughout financial institutions the world over. CARE is calling on all financial service providers to read the proof in this report that women are better financial clients, to support the drive for 100% financial inclusion for women, and to invest in reaching this goal. Read More...

Baseline Survey for Supporting and Enhancing Resilient and Viable Employment Opportunities (SERVE) Project

The Supporting and Enhancing Resilient and Viable Employment Opportunities (SERVE) project seeks to ensure a resilient, sustainable, gender equitable and inclusive entrepreneurial environment that increases dignified and fulfilling work opportunities for predominantly female youth (PFY) in agricultural value chains in ten districts namely Rulindo and Gakenke in Northern Province; Kayonza, Rwamagana, Ngoma, and Kirehe in Eastern Province; Nyamagabe, and Huye in Southern Province; and Nyabihu and Rubavu in Western Province by 2027.

CARE Rwanda commissioned a baseline survey whose objective was to carry out a complementary survey among the total population of 14,569 targeted Individuals/ MSEs profiled at the start of the baseline and set baseline values along which the project will be assessed.

The survey adopted a mixed methods methodology and employed quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection which included: Literature Review, 374 Household Surveys of Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) owners, twelve (12) Key Informant Interviews (KIIs) with officials of implementing partner organisations and fifteen (15) Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) with MSE owners in the ten districts. Read More...

SERVE Rwanda Value Chain Analysis 1 – Agricultural value chain analysis for SERVE

As of November 2023, agriculture employs 48 percent of the total labor force in Rwanda (NISR, 2024). Within this sector, the gender gap in productivity persists, with female-man-aged farms 11.7 percent less productive that male farms. The SERVE project identified four key factors behind this productivity gap: namely; poor business practices, difficulties in accessing agricultural lending, heavy reliance on informal sector lending, and cultural and social norms preventing women and youth from entering and succeeding in the agriculture sector. Addressing these challenges, the SERVE project, aligned with the Mastercard Foundation Young Africa Works strategy, is led by CARE International in collaboration with partners such as DUHAMIC-ADRI, PFTH, AMIR, and Urwego Bank. Over five years, SERVE aims to establish a resilient, sustainable, and gender-equitable entrepreneurial environment in the agricultural sector across ten districts in Rwanda.
With a focus on fostering inclusive growth for youth-led agricultural Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs), SERVE aims to enhance productivity, access to finance, entrepreneurship, and market linkages in selected value chains. Simultaneously, the project aims to influence policies and social norms to reduce barriers and enhance equity, particularly for female youth. Collaborating with government ministries, civil society organizations, and the private sector, SERVE leverages strategic alliances to develop tailored financial products, bridge the gendered digital divide, and connect female youth with mentors and potential buyers.
Targeting approximately 45,500 female youth, including refugees and those with disabilities, SERVE emphasizes strengthening existing employment opportunities and generating new ones within the agricultural sector for individuals aged 18 to 35. Entry points include existing Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) and Farmer Groups (FG), primarily comprising young people, as well as exploring youth cooperatives and collective agribusi-nesses outside the VSLA network.
The aim of this report is to provide a comprehensive market analysis of the targeted value chains of tomatoes, chili, green beans, and poultry, as well as four additional potential value chains. This includes evaluating the current status of gender mainstreaming, and climate adaptation and mitigation efforts across all nodes of the prioritized value chains, as well as a critical examination of existing and projected agricultural financing and environmental policies and climate adaptation plans for National Determined Contributions to be able to set a strategic transformational plan for the prioritized value chains. The report provides information on existing opportunities and constraints across the targeted value chains and about current advantages and challenges within the chosen value chains. The report recommends solutions to overcome obstacles and provide information for practical implementation strategies. Read More...

Harvesting the Future Year 1

Harvesting the Future aims to increase food availability and consumption by increasing production through the establishment of home gardens for vulnerable families with children at risk of malnutrition.
The project uses the Farmer Field and Business School (FFBS) methodology, a gender-transformative approach to food systems programming, in which women and their families strengthen their knowledge, skills, leadership and confidence in sustainable agricultural practices, climate-smart water and nutrition, livelihood diversification, monitoring and participatory evaluation. Participating households receive agricultural inputs and are encouraged to grow a variety of vegetables on a fixed plot throughout the year. Read More...

EDUCATION SECTOR PROGRAM IMPLEMENTATION GRANT (ESPIG) Endline Report

Global evidence has shown that the type and quality of education can either fuel marginalization, alienation, poverty and vulnerability of children and young people or strengthen societal resilience. After the fall of the state in 1991 and the outbreak of conflict, the education system in Somalia remains fragmented and underfunded – with only 0.25 percent of Somalia’s GDP invested in the education system. Significant barriers to accessing quality education in Somalia include minimal capacity to provide in-teacher training; insufficient salaries for educators; high student to teacher ratio; low ratio of textbooks to students; inadequate school infrastructure (e.g., gender appropriate WASH facilities or access to electricity); marginalization of pastoralist communities and minority clans; and an inability to appropriately accommodate students with disabilities.
In response the Ministry of Education, Culture and Higher Education (MOECHE) of the Government of Somalia and CARE have implemented the Education Sector Program Implementation Grant (ESPIG) funded by the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). Aligned with the Federal Government of Somalia’s Education Sector Plan 2018-2020 (ESSP), the overall objective of ESPIG is to increase access to quality education for out of school children; enhance the quality of primary education; and improve the capacity of the Ministries of Education (MOEs) at the Federal Member State (FMS) and district level to regulate and better manage the education sector.
This endline evaluation aimed to assess the extent to which the stated objectives and ESPIG components were achieved (or not) during the course of the project. This study also aimed to identify and explore the factors affecting the achievement of the ESPIG outcomes. For instance, it sought to identify factors affecting access to primary education, as well as the quality of teaching. The findings and recommendations aim to inform adaptations to future GPE investments in system strengthening in Somalia as well as the proposed methodology for their implementation. Read More...

Rapid Gender Analysis on Power and Participation Shafiullah Khata, Ukhiya, Cox’s Bazar Bangladesh

The current Rohingya refugee crisis is regarded as one of the world's worst humanitarian crises of the twenty-first century. Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims are a stateless Muslim community that have faced systematic discrimination and targeted persecution in Myanmar’s Rakhine State for decades. As the Myanmar government refuses to give Rohingya any citizenship rights, the vast majority of Rohingya have no legal documentation which is effectively making them stateless and trying to escape from the military’s campaign of violence, killing, rape, arson, and other grave abuses.

Bangladesh has taken in the greatest number of refugees thus far. Since 25th August 2017 a large number of Rohingya people has fled into Bangladesh from Myanmar after facing statelessness, targeted violence and discrimination. As of February 2022, there are 923,179 people and 194,091 households in 33 camps in Kutupalong and Nayapara area of Cox’s Bazar District.

There is limited to no participation and/or influence of Rohingya women in decision making or leadership roles within the humanitarian response in Cox’s Bazar Refugee Camp. Societal and religious norms of the Rohingya are patriarchal and tend to favor men’s participation and leadership over that of women; however, there are opportunities identified to support greater participation and leadership of women in public life.
Read More...

Integrated Health, WASH and FSL Assistance to Conflict-affected, Displaced, and Vulnerable Households in Amran governorate, Yemen

CARE Yemen has completed implementing CDCS-supported “Integrated Health, WASH and FSL Assistance to conflict-affected, displaced and vulnerable households in Amran governorate, Yemen”. The purpose of this program is to improve health, WASH, food security, livelihoods, and wellbeing for IDPs and vulnerable host communities in Amran Governorate in Yemen.

To set benchmark values for the outcome level indicators and to measure the success of the project in achieving its goals and objectives, a baseline and endline surveys was conducted in the project’s operational targeted areas. The endline survey was conducted with samples of targeted beneficiary households living in Raydah district of Amran Governorate in August 2023. The survey mainly used quantitative methodology (i.e., household survey) to collect pertinent data.

Here are the key survey outcomes:
1. Coping Strategy Index: The average CSI score for the surveyed HHs 9.96 (male: 10.03, female: 9.85), which is indicating that participants are relatively experiencing significant resilience and recovering from using negative food coping strategies.
Food Consumption Score: The average FCS for the targeted HHs is 54.65 (male: 54.81, female: 54.41). In addition, 89.93% are in acceptable food consumption.

2. Household Dietary Diversity Score: The average HDDS for the targeted household is 6.7 which indicated that surveyed HHs is somehow adequate dietary diversity. This denotes a good medium quality of diet whereby households consume an average of around 7 food groups out of the recommended twelve food groups.

3. HHS (Household Hunger Scale): The analysis of the endline data shows that only 2.16% of households faced moderate hunger; whereas 0.0% of households faced severe hunger during the survey time.

4. Access to safe water: about 74.3% of interviewees (male: 78.6%, female: 64.3%) mentioned to have access to safe water from protected water sources such as piped water system and protected wells.

5. Time taken to collect water: Majority of respondents 91.4% replied that the water is “Available inside the house” from the primary source which have been rehabilitated by CARE.

6. Practice of water treatment: 84.3% of respondents (male: 89.8%, female: 71.4%) mentioned treating water before drinking mainly using respectively the techniques of boiling, treated from pipeline, filters, Aqua-tabs, and Chlorine.

7. Availability of household latrines: The majority 98.6% of respondents (male: 98.0%, female: 100.0%) mentioned that they do have household latrines.

8. Practice of handwashing: approximately 87.9% of respondents (male: 86.7%, female: 90.5%) wash their hands at least three out of five critical times of hand washing.
Read More...

Mid-term Review: Women, Peace, and Security in Yemen

The civil war in Yemen has led to the greatest humanitarian emergency in the world, disproportionately impacting women and girls. The crisis has further deepened gender inequalities and women’s vulnerabilities to violence and harassment. Further amplifying the situation are poor policy implementation, a shrinking civic space - particularly for women’s organisations - and a retreat in recent hard won gains around women’s voices and leadership within peacebuilding processes.

Despite these realities, the context in Yemen offers significant opportunities for advancing the Women, Peace, and Security (WPS) agenda. Recognizing this need and opportunity, SOS Foundation for Development (short: SOS Foundation), CARE Yemen, RNW Media, and two implementing partners (Manasati30 and Generation without Qat), as part of an international consortium led by CARE Nederland, have been implementing the WPS3 in Yemen since 2021. The WPS3 is a strategic partnership funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) under the Strengthening Civil Society Policy Framework. It is a five-year initiative that seeks to contribute to lasting peace and to building a more equal society through addressing both women’s immediate needs and the underlying causes of their limited inclusion in relief, recovery and peacebuilding processes.

The Consortium commissioned Optimum Analysis to conduct a mid-term review of the WPS3 programme, covering the first half of programme implementation (1 January 2021 – 30 June 2023). The main purpose of the mid-term review is to assess the overall achievements and effectiveness of the WPS3 programme at the mid-point and provide recommendations on how the Partnership could be improved in moving forward. Read More...

WASH lifesaving assistance and protection services to the conflict affected IDPs and host communities in selected districts of Taiz governorate of Yemen

CARE Yemen is currently implementing ‘WASH lifesaving assistance and protection services to the conflict affected IDPs and host communities in selected districts of Taiz governorate of Yemen.

The principal objective of the project is ‘Rural and urban communities affected by the ongoing conflict and disaster have received life-saving assistance (for immediate needs) and improved foundation to their sustainable livelihood and resilience whereas the specific objective of the project is ‘Targeted IDP and host community households have improved access to comprehensive WASH and Protection services strengthening their resilience.

The project’s key results are:
• Result (1) Conflict affected households have enhanced access to safe water and improved hygiene practices through comprehensive WASH assistance.
• Result (2) Improved access of the most at-risk women, men, girls and boys to critical information and specialized protection services for their protection.

In order to measure the success of the project in achieving its goals and objectives, a baseline survey was conducted 396 households’ visits in Al Mudhaffar, AlQahirah, Salh and Al Maafer Districts of Taiz Governorate, this endline report can provide a critical reference point for assessing changes and impact, as it establishes a basis for comparing the situation before and after an intervention.
Read More...

Final Review of the Project ‘Empowering Communities to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls in Mannar’

This report presents the findings of the final review of the project ‘Empowering Communities to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls’ (VAWG) implemented by UN Women, UNICEF, and UNFPA in Mannar, Sri Lanka (From September 2020 to February 2023). This project used a combination of social norms and behavioural change, and livelihoods-strengthening interventions to prevent and respond to VAWG. The review objectives were:

1. To assess the extent to which the programme has achieved its output-level results.
2. To examine the relevance and effectiveness of the project’s implementation strategy and
efforts in jointly implementing the programme.
3. To identify good practices, lessons learnt and recommendations from the programme, and how the programme has met the expectations of project teams and the beneficiaries.

Evaluation Questions
This review intended to answer the following overarching evaluation questions:
1. Relevance: To what extent has the project addressed the needs identified in its design?
2. Effectiveness To what extent has the project implemented its outputs to target beneficiaries?
3. Efficiency: How efficiently was the project implemented and delivered quality outputs against
what was planned (including official amendments)?
4. Sustainability: How likely would the project's benefits continue after donor funding has been
withdrawn?
5. Human Rights-based and Gender-responsive Approach: To what extent has the project
applied a human rights-based and gender-responsive approach and identified and engaged the most marginalised groups?

Review Methodology
This review adopted qualitative and quantitative research approaches. It used a quantitative survey which interviewed 30 beneficiaries randomly selected from all divisional secretariat (DS) divisions where the project was implemented. This involved using a structured survey questionnaire based on the evaluation questions and sub-questions. The qualitative research component used a case study method where the ‘whole of project system’ in a selected divisional secretariat (Mannar Town DS division) was examined to provide an in-depth picture of the intervention. A total of 186 UN Agency staff, government stakeholders, implementation partners, and beneficiaries (purposely selected based on their demographic features, roles, and types of involvement) were interviewed through semi-structured Focus Group Discussions and in-depth interviews. It also involved a comprehensive review of programme documents. Read More...

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