Young Mothers Programme review: ‘Success is almost guaranteed’

26 Feb 2014

Young Mothers Programme Creates ‘Much Better Opportunities’

“Success is almost guaranteed” to women who complete Hand in Hand Eastern Africa’s Young Mothers Programme, according to an independent mid-term review conducted by Brinjal, a UK-based consultancy specialising in livelihoods analysis. The study comes ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8.

Happiness’ does not simply feel good, but helps (people) function better.” Happiness expert Professor Ed Diener

Launched in Kenya in 2012, the Young Mothers Programme mobilises mothers between the ages of 13 and 30 who, despite lacking skills and training, are major breadwinners in their families. The program combines Hand in Hand’s job creation model with psycho-social support – or, as it’s referred to by participants, “freeing of the mind” – from Clowns without Borders Sweden (CwB), a non-profit organisation that works to “spread laughter, joy and hope” to people affected by conflict and poverty. The project is funded by the Swedish Postcode Lottery.

Halima, a young mother and business woman, holding her son

Halima | Young mother and business woman | Kawangware, Kenya

“(Young mothers) understand the benefits of mutual support. They are bright, energetic and dynamic in applying the training provided by the HiH model,” says the review. “When visiting a group that has been operating for 9-12 months it was very clear that most members have established business ventures which mean that they are no longer forced into the casual labour market on a daily basis and have a much better opportunity to plan their livelihoods and look to the future.”

The report also said CwB’s contribution “enhanced the group mobilisation process. Through a series of songs, storytelling and games the group members succeed to shake off the stress of daily life, build solidarity and concentrate fully and equally on the group task at hand.

“In fact,” it continued, “the (Business Relationship Officers) find the techniques so effective that they are being used with (community self-help) groups, not just the Young Mothers Groups.”

No comprehensive research has been done into the benefits of stress-relief in developing world Self-Help Groups, but lots of studies are more broadly applicable. Happiness expert Professor Ed Diene of University of Illinois, for example, “finds that in general ‘happiness’ does not simply feel good, but helps (people) function better.”

The review also identified several areas for improvement. Retaining new members – forced to forego casual labour typically paying 200 Kenyan shillings (US $2.30) a day to attend the group sessions – was chief among them. Planning is underway within HiH Eastern Africa to implement the recommendations.

Young mothers programme by the numbers

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Jobs created: 1,236

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Businesses created: 927

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Mothers trained : 1,930

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Children enrolled in school: 1,769