Female amputees are getting the chance to set up their own dream business as Legs4Africa stands with International Women’s Day call for equality by launching a scheme to help women in Africa become financially independent following limb loss. Part of a series of female focused projects to increase opportunities for young girls and women in some of the world’s most remote regions it follows a desire to create greater equality for female amputees in Africa.
This month to mark International Women’s Day on Wednesday 8th March Legs4Africa has launched a new microfinancing project to help women gain financial independence in some of Africa’s most remote regions.
The project, which has been funded by a £4,000 donation from Legs4Africa, is being run by grassroot community group Ladies Gambia Amputee Association to offer start up grants for women looking to set up or grow their business. Group co-ordinator Fatou Njie, who runs her own successful roadside shop, says the project is helping to provide women with the skills and start-up finance to become independent.
The project aims to support 24 women in the Gambia every 12 months to help them get the support they need to start up their own business. Every 6 months 12 women are provided small grants to set up their own businesses, from clothes shops to selling fish or making toys, with the money then paid back to allow a further 12 women to benefit from the support.
Bethany Elgood, Community Partnerships Manager at Legs4Africa, said it was really empowering for Legs4Africa to be able to support community projects like Ladies Gambia Amputee Association as it gave women the opportunity to become financially independent providing role models for younger girls and helping to break down barriers for greater equality going forward.
She said: “I am so excited about this new venture. Projects like this are crucial in helping women to gain financial independence after limb loss.
“Unfortunately, there is still a lot of stigma attached to limb loss and this can affect women’s abilities to find work, gain financial independence and rebuild their lives. This project offers a chance to bridge this gap and allow women the support they need in staying independent.”
The first 12 women have received their funds and will now be able to develop their businesses before paying back the money to allow more women to benefit. It is hoped that future funding will then allow other regions to follow in Gambia’s footsteps and provide similar opportunities.
The project is one of many female focused grass root schemes Legs4Africa support in helping to drive equality in the regions and change the narrative for future generations of women in sub-Saharan Africa.
Kenya based community organisation Universal Lighthouse is also helping to support women facing period poverty with the help of Toiletries Amnesty. Launching their campaign on Wednesday (8) the group is hoping to raise enough money to help provide women in Kenya with much needed menstrual products and toiletries to allow every woman to face their period with dignity.
In Kenya alone over one million school-age girls miss an average of four days per month because of their menstrual cycle and the lack of access to feminine hygiene products. Statistics show that 65% of women in Kenya just cannot afford to pay for the toiletries needed.
Universal Lighthouse was set up by amputee Emmilly Aketch to reduce the number of women and young girls withdrawing from school due to early marriage or pregnancy, the project is working with Legs4Africa to raise funds to ship much needed toiletry products to the region.
Donations will provide essential self-care products for women and girls living with disabilities in Kisumu, Western Kenya.
Talking about the work that Legs4Africa do to support female amputees, CEO Tom Williams OBE, said that the charity was dedicated to breaking down barriers and was proud to support a variety of community groups to make a difference on the ground in Africa.
He said: “The support we provide is about so much more than simply providing someone with a much-needed prosthetic. When you find yourself suffering with limb loss it can change your whole life and rebuilding that requires a lot of support from finding work, transport, social opportunities, peer support, wellbeing advice. Our community-led partnerships are about empowering individuals to make that change and offer projects on the ground which make a difference.
“Both the Universal Lighthouse period poverty campaign and new microfinancing scheme with Ladies Gambia Amputee Association are the perfect example of how kind donations here in the UK are making the world of difference to young women across the globe.
They are the catalyst to help the project get off the ground but it is the hard work of the community partnerships which make these projects flourish, delivering the funds where they are needed most and helping to make a real difference. I am excited to see how we can grow and develop each of these connections to have even more of an impact in the future.Tom Williams, the founder of Legs4Africa