Women’s economic empowerment

We support women to beat the odds and succeed by setting up and running their own businesses on their own terms – lifting their families above the poverty line.

Why do we work with women?


Around 400 million women and girls live below the poverty line of US $2.15 a day. 

Increasing women’s economic equality reduces poverty for everyone. Supporting women to earn their own income – and decide how they spend it – means more children in school, and more families with access to healthcare.   

Our vision is that every woman should have the power and the means to raise herself and her family out of poverty.



How we work

Through our unique, proven model, we’ve helped more than 4.2 million women launch sustainable businesses.

– First, we set up self-help groups where women support each other, save together and learn together,

– Then we provide programme members with business and skills training.

– We make sure our members can access the loans and the tools they need to get started.

– Finally, we help women scale up their businesses, reaching bigger markets and stronger supply chains.

What barriers do women face? 

Attitudes that restrict what women can and can’t do make it much harder for women to earn their own incomes.  These include:  

– Women being expected to be responsible for all domestic labour and childcare 

– Laws and customs that prevent women from owning assets, accessing loans and credit or having a bank account 

– Women lacking literacy and numeracy skills because they have fewer years in education.  



Man and a woman arm in arm in a field


Challenging attitudes that hold women back

Supporting women to earn and control their own incomes is one of the most effective ways to help families escape the cycle of poverty. But, in the places we operate, the majority of women don’t have the freedom to visit friends and family members without their husband’s permission, and can spend between 8-10 hours a day on household labour.

We work with men and communities to shift the social norms that prevent women succeeding as entrepreneurs. Find out more about our Male Engagement Programming (MEP) here

Our impact at a glance


Amount per dollar earned that men spend on their families and communities


Amount per dollar earned that women spend on their families and communities


Average female labour participation rate in Hand in Hand countries


Female participation rate in Hand in Hand Self-Help Groups

Our partnerships in action

Fighting poverty in Kenya with Visa 

We teamed up with Visa to reach 10,200 women to lift their families out of poverty in some of Kenya’s most disadvantaged regions.

Planet friendly farming with IKEA 

Thanks to the IKEA Foundation we will train 1,600 smallholder farmers in regenerative and circular practices to increase productivity and reduce poverty.

Partnering with Cartier Philanthropy to empower women

This groundbreaking project works with men to tackle restrictive attitudes that hold women back.