Breakthroughs for ‘forgotten’ women from marginalized communities in fight against poverty

 AdvocacyEconomic Development,
 13th Mar 2017

13th of March 2017 - A new report by CARE and the H&M Foundation shows the potential of women entrepreneurship to eradicate poverty, among the often forgotten world’s most marginalized, with results showing a ten-fold increase in income in some cases. CARE is calling for further support to catalyze women empowerment through enterprise development.

The report, “From Necessity to Opportunity” gathers results from 11 countries across all continents where 100,000 women have been reached by the program “Strengthening Women – a catalyst for positive change.” It shows that the majority of women from marginalized communities, often referred to as “necessity entrepreneurs”, increased income from their enterprises, through interventions that include skills development and capital investments. Most of the women are able to change their business practices, become more self-confident and empowered to make their own decisions. All 10,000 participating women in Burundi increased their income, with an average increase of 203 per cent. Results have been equally promising across Guatemala, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Jordan, Nepal, Peru, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, and Zambia.

Reintje van Haeringen, coordinator of the strengthening women program says:CARE has been a pioneer of enterprise development for the world’s poorest women, giving them the tools to move from survival to success. These promising results of our partnership with the H&M Foundation are why we call on others in the private sector and on governments to step up action in the fight to end poverty.”

Economies lose out when half of its society cannot realize its full potential. Women entrepreneurs show they are able to become part of local, national and international market systems in a way that generates value not only for themselves and their communities but also for other market players such as companies and financial institutions. Women are more reliable in paying back loans and typically invest a higher proportion of their earnings in their families and communities as men, as reported by the UNDP in 2015. If female farmers in developing countries had equal access to productive resources, yield could increase by 20 to 30%.

Maria Bystedt from H&M Foundation adds: “It is one thing to set up ambitious goals for a partnership but to see them come true is amazing. Together with CARE we have found new creative methods and been able to empower 100,000 women in 11 countries. The learning captured in the report will now be the base for our joint work during the next years, supported by an additional SEK 60 million donation (=6.3 million € and 6.6 million US$). We want to be a catalyst for change and drive structural change for women’s entrepreneurship around the world. ”

According to a 2015 McKinsey Global Institute report, by advancing gender equality, as much as US$12 trillion would be added to the global economy by 2025. CARE is calling on all sectors to do their part: on government bodies to remove regulatory barriers to financial services for women, on banks to link women with microfinancing opportunities, on women’s organizations to engage men and boys as well as role models for a positive response to women’s economic activities.

Notes to Editors:

About CARE: Founded in 1945, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty and providing lifesaving assistance in emergencies. In more than 90 countries around the world, CARE places special focus on working alongside poor girls and women because, equipped with the proper resources, they have the power to help lift whole families and entire communities out of poverty. CARE created the microfinance model of Village Savings and Loans, now used in 35 countries worldwide, giving women and their communities a chance to leave poverty behind. As one of four program areas, CARE aims to promote greater access to, and control over, economic resources by 30 million women by 2020.

H&M Foundation: The H&M Foundation is a non-profit global foundation, privately funded by the Stefan Persson family, founders and main owners of the fashion company H&M. The mission of the Foundation is to create long lasting positive change and improve living conditions by investing in communities, people and innovative ideas. Through partnerships with prominent organizations around the globe, the Foundation drives change within four focus areas; Strengthening women, Education, Clean water, and Protecting the planet. In addition, the H&M Foundation can also provide emergency relief. Since 2013, the Stefan Persson family has donated SEK 1.1 billion (USD 154 million/EUR 123 million) to the H&M Foundation. For further information, visit

About the program “Strengthening Women – a catalyst for positive change”:  The program strengthens the business capacity of 100,000 women worldwide to start up or to expand their businesses. Women get access to tools, knowledge, and/or seed capital, and are trained according to their needs, in sales expertise, general business development skills, and financial literacy.

Five campaigns with powerful role models take place to raise awareness regarding the barriers they have had to overcome to reach their full potential. The role models inspire women of poor communities to realize their dreams for a better future through the establishment of small businesses. For more information:

Media contacts

Media spokesperson: Reintje van Haeringen, coordinator of the women empowerment through business development program. She has written the report and is presenting it in NY. Contact her via Richard Kooge, 0031 6 52 88 28 41.



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