Hand in Hand and Cartier Philanthropy project boosts Tanzanian women entrepreneurs’ incomes by $59 a month

12 Jun 2023

A three-year trial conducted by Hand in Hand between 2020 and 2023 to support women to launch and run profitable businesses has helped create 457 businesses and 545 jobs in some of Arusha’s most disadvantaged communities – with women increasing their incomes by an average of 117% (USD 59.72 per month).

As well as providing 600 women with business skills training, mentoring and supporting them to access credit and reach larger markets, the programme also incorporated a gender-specific training module that sought to address and challenge the restrictive social norms and attitudes that prevent women from succeeding as entrepreneurs and run profitable businesses.

The programme also improved women’s financial resilience, with 65% participants saying they would be able to deal with a financial shock, such as an unexpected medical bill, without selling assets or borrowing money​.

As part of the trial, evaluated by International Center for Women’s Research (ICRW) and funded by Cartier Philanthropy, the partners and husbands of 300 women were also enrolled in gender-specific training – designed to shift men’s ideas about what a women’s role can be, as well as couples’ sessions where husbands and wives explored issues together.

In many communities, it’s believed a woman working outside the home undermines the man’s position as the family’s breadwinner. Women are also expected to be solely responsible for domestic work and childcare, leaving them little time to run a business.

Boosting savings and decision making

In a survey of 182 couples, ICRW found that providing male partners with additional gender-specific training improved women’s decision making within the home – with 62% of women able to make decisions about the things that matter to them, such as visiting family or friends, healthcare or household purchases – compared to 45% in the group where men did not take part in the workshops.

ICRW also found that engaging men had a significant impact on the amount of money women entrepreneurs were able to save, with women whose partners had taken part in the gender-specific training increased their savings by 49% – compared to women whose partners did not take part, whose savings decreased by 43%.

Changing attitudes in the home

Typically, women spend six to eight hours a day on unpaid domestic work​, which is why Hand in Hand worked with men to help them develop an understanding of a woman’s workload – as well giving them the skills to help with household tasks.

According to ICRW’s findings, men who had taken part in the gender-specific training reported spending approximately one hour more per day on domestic work – including household chores and care for children. Men who had not taken part in the training said they spent an hour less on household tasks and caring.

Both men and women had more gender-equitable attitudes at the end of the programme – with participants less likely to agree with statements such as ‘men should have the final word in disagreements’. Men who had taken part in the gender-specific training were more likely to hold equitable attitudes than men who had not. Moreover, women whose husbands had participated in the gender-specific training also experienced more positive shifts in gender attitudes, compared to women whose husbands who had not.

Hand in Hand Tanzania CEO, Jane Sabuni, said: “In the traditional societies we work within, the idea of a woman earning an income can be seen as threatening to a man’s status and position. Through this innovative field trial, we’ve successfully worked with communities to challenge attitudes that make it tough for women to earn money – with men even taking on a greater share of domestic tasks so their wives can spend time running their business.”

Hand in Hand International CEO, Dorothea Arndt, said: “We have been able to increase women’s incomes by an average of USD 59 a month in some of Arusha’s most deprived places.

“Women entrepreneurs can’t achieve their full potential unless their families and communities are behind them, but a shift in how women’s roles are perceived takes time. We know change rarely happens unless it’s driven from the ground up – so at the start of the project we engaged with clan leaders, church leaders and local government representatives – showing them the benefits of men and women working together as a team to boost their family’s incomes.”

Pascale de la Frégonnière, Strategic Advisor to the Board, Cartier Philanthropy, commented: “Deconstructing the traditional idea of masculinity is part of the challenge of empowering women across the world. Changing deeply engrained gender norms takes time. This field trial, which is also being implemented in Rwanda by Women for Women, aimed to fill a gap and start building the evidence base we will need if we want to engage men in a meaningful way to achieve gender equity.”

Emily Schaub, Women’s Economic Empowerment Specialist at the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW), said: “The findings from this trial suggest that men’s engagement has an important role to play in attaining more equitable gender norms and attitudes about men’s and women’s roles. These attitudes in turn can be facilitators of an environment that enables and supports women’s economic and social empowerment.”