Okwethu Self-Help group | Weavers working on a loom | Rustenburg area, South Africa

Our work in Southern Africa

Hand in Hand’s Southern African operation, concluded in 2015, had programmes in four countries: South Africa, Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Swaziland.  Headquartered in Johannesburg, South Africa, the office was established in 2008 after Hand in Hand co-founder Percy Barnevik’s advisorship to Thabo Mbeki, the country’s first president after Nelson Mandela. A partnership with UN Women helped Hand in Hand train thousands of women entrepreneurs in the region.

By the numbers

Members trained: 154,467

Our Self-Help Group members save together, train together and start businesses together

Businesses started: 53,089

Hand in Hand Southern Africa entrepreneurs grow crops, bead jewellery, manufacture bricks and more

Jobs created: 135,299

Our entrepreneurs make their own success, breaking the cycle of dependency

Lives improved: 318,534

Every business we help create in Southern Africa benefits an average of six family members – young, old and everywhere in between

The situation for women

Across southern Africa the situation is largely the same: most subsistence farmers are women with poor access to education and finance, and most land owners are men.

69% of rural South African women live in poverty

60% of subsistence farmers in Swaziland are women

56% of Zimbabwean farmers are women

27.1% of women in Lesotho are unemployed

Expansion map

Hand in Hand Southern Africa operated in four countries: South Africa, Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Swaziland.

"Empowering women contributes to building sustainable communities. We know that a woman’s income immensely benefits not only them but also their children’s education and other family needs. We selected Hand in Hand Southern Africa as our local partner for the Coca-Cola South Africa and UN Women partnership on the strength of their track record in empowering women entrepreneurs in the community."
Dr Sadiq Syed | Deputy Representative and Officer-in-Charge | UN Women South Africa