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SAVE empowers women in Botswana


First milestones in the “Women Empowerment” project

Last year, a very special project was launched: With the support of the Schmitz Foundation, SAVE started a project to empower women around the Okavango Delta in Botswana.

Since then, 70 women who were hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and the lack of income from tourism have been supported.

The women come from three villages where the unemployment rate is over 50%. The majority of the women are over 50 years old and have never attended secondary school.

The “Women Empowerment Project” now gives them the opportunity to earn a living with traditional wickerwork and small-scale farming – all areas in which the women have special skills despite their lack of education.

In the village of Matsaudi, the focus is on basket weaving, poultry and vegetable production. In recent months, the women there have been trained not only in these areas, but also in cooperative management, accounting and marketing. A fenced farm to protect the crops from wild animals is already in operation. The women have woven the first 31 baskets, and the next step is to build a souvenir store where the women can sell their wickerwork. Potential buyers are also hotels and lodges, and initial contacts have been made here. In addition, the women will soon start a horticultural business and begin poultry farming.

The 25 women of Quqao village have also thrown themselves into the project with full commitment. Here, the focus is on vegetable cultivation, so protection from wild animals, such as elephants, was a huge challenge. The fields had to be covered with electric fencing, shade nets had to be set up, solar lights installed, as well as a solar pump-powered irrigation system. Of course, the women also received lessons in business management and money management.

The women in the village of Nxaraga focus on traditional basketry. Here, too, much has been achieved in recent months: storage space and an exhibition center have been built, and in the long term a studio for handicrafts is to be established there. The most important next step is now the establishment on the market. An own website is to be designed, the goal is to conquer the international market as well.

“The SAVE Women Empowerment project is so special,” says project manager Andrew Kholi, “because it brings women, who are usually disadvantaged, into their power. They are highly motivated and all have great skills, but they have never learned to be entrepreneurial. That’s exactly what we’re helping them do, so they can soon make a living autonomously.”