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Photography: Musanze Women in Rwanda by ​Azeb Tadesse


The CBC is an incubator of the Women In Action Network (WIAN), an initiative of women working to achieve sustained socio-economic transformations through enterprise development. The CBC provides technical support to develop WIAN members’ capacity in a participatory process that centers community knowledge where the Network members drive the direction of change and engagement in their local communities. WIAN strives to support women create productive and equitable futures through communities with healthy, affirmed, and productive women, which fosters socio-economic conditions where children can thrive.


A significant limitation of existing methods and practices is the deficit, top-down approach detached from, and overlooks, the lived experience, reality, and aspirations of the impacted community. This disconnect is partly due to exclusionary isolation, lack of representation in decision-making, and the absence of knowledge and information to ground policies designed to address the challenges. As a result, these approaches temporarily alleviate immediate needs rather than enabling the transformation of lives. WIAN’s participatory framework develops the capacity of partners to fully participate in the creation, operation, and governance of social and economic enterprises, a process embedded with self-empowerment and livelihood opportunities.


Research shows that when women gain access to and control over resources and fully participate in decision-making, their families and community benefit. Consequently, not only do women gain full participation in the nation’s socio-economic life but so do their children and future generations. The realization of economic independence increases the representation and participation of marginalized communities broadly, and women specifically, in policy discourse and decision-making.


Women’s social and economic vulnerability deprives them of economic rights such as access to resources and decision-making power. In the labor market, they are often underpaid and overrepresented in unpaid, seasonal, and part-time work. Therefore, poverty impacts women not because they are not active in the labor force but because they are primarily engaged in activities where they are vulnerable to diminished returns from their work. Empowering women to increase their earnings entails boosting the value of their work through ownership and equity. The Network develops the capacity of women to add value to their labor which pays exponential dividends to the community.

Musanze, Rwanda


In partnership with Transformational Ministries, WIAN works with historically marginalized groups in Musanze in the Northern Province. Members of this community have historically been at the margins of society and have the lowest rates of social and economic participation. This is a long-term engagement focused on the most vulnerable and disenfranchised members of the society, women, to provide them with the resources necessary to empower and impact the next generation by uplifting their families, and communities.

Niyahibu, Rwanda


In partnership with Reach the Children-Rwanda, the project works with the mothers of students in RCR elementary school. Employment opportunities are scarce in the area and majority are female-headed households, where  women did not have a steady source of income and relied on their daily earnings to support their families. The women rise at dawn each day and drop off their children at the Nyahibu Academy before it opens and set out to find work. The project is working to support the  women, who sought to form a cooperative and rent a large plot where they  can produce crops not only for their own consumption but also surplus for local markets.

Nandom and Wa West, Ghana


Nandom and Wa West in Northern Ghana is home to shea tree and women have been processing shea butter for generations. In light of limited job opportunities in the area, of women in the two communities took up shea butter processing to support their families. But because of their limited resources and lack of access to markets they have only engaged in a barter trade. Forming a cooperative would provide access to resources that would enable them to sell their produce and provide for basic needs such as health, social-economic needs, the education of their children and the well-being of the family. The project is engaged in supporting the women develop their capacity to create, manage, and operate a cooperative devoted to processing high quality, export ready shea butter . 

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