• BAAG welcomes new member Hand in Hand International

BAAG welcomes new member Hand in Hand International

02 March 2018

Frozan, 19, lives in Marmul district, a corner of the world where young women get married, not work, and help is vanishingly rare. Still, that never stopped her from dreaming. “We are a big family and my father, a farmer, was the only one earning – it was never enough. I have always wanted to do something to help, to be an independent person, but I didn’t know how.”

Didn’t, that is, until she joined BAAG’s newest member organisation, Hand in Hand.

Established in 2007 and backed by donors including DfID, the EU and GIZ, the international development arm of the German government, Hand in Hand Afghanistan has helped 38,000 members create 31,000 businesses and 36,000 jobs in its first decade alone. Focused primarily on women’s economic empowerment, its programmes routinely surpass 70 percent female participation – a figure researchers call “incredible” – and in 2018 will expand to specifically target thousands of returnees and IDPs. No matter whom they’re helping, however, Hand in Hand’s four-step model remains broadly the same.

First, the organisation mobilises Self-Help Groups and teaches them to save. Second, it provides members with business and skills training. Third, if a member presents a compelling business plan, Hand in Hand provides the equipment they need to start a micro-enterprise in one of 26 high-margin vocations. And last, it helps members scale up by providing access to markets and international value chains. With the money they earn, Hand in Hand’s members take care of their families, putting food on the table and children through school. Together, they have improved 230,000 lives so far.

Frozan’s is one of them. After joining a Self-Help Group in 2015, the young entrepreneur’s training soon led to a business plan, which in turn led to an internal loan. Finally, she was ready: the newest, youngest and only female beekeeper in her village. Three years later, she’s also the wealthiest, with almost US $2,000 a year in revenue. “Now I am paying the school expenses of my two younger sisters, helping my dad with the family’s expenses and developing the economy of my community,” she says. “My father is so proud that he tells other people about my success. That makes me proud, too.”

Agnes Svensson, Head of Programmes at Hand in Hand International, said BAAG’s newest member is keen to collaborate with the rest of the network, both in the UK and Afghanistan.

“Collaboration is indispensable in the fight against poverty,” she said. “In joining BAAG, a group that includes so many important and influential organisations, Hand in Hand looks forward to working together on advocacy, programmes and more.”

Jawed Nader, BAAG’s Director, responded in turn.

“Poverty, gender inequality, insecurity, migration – so many of the issues that BAAG members grapple with cannot be tackled without considering livelihoods and women’s economic empowerment. On these issues Hand in Hand is a global leader, and today we welcome a vital new voice,” he said.

To learn more about Hand in Hand Afghanistan, its programmes and the provinces in which it operates, visit the Hand in Hand website.