5 Minutes of Inspiration: How Building Love Doubles Income

5 Minutes of Inspiration: How Building Love Doubles Income



Women in Ethiopia are telling us “…now we love each other, we work together….” They’ve also doubled their income.  Learn more. 

By Emily Janoch

One woman in Ethiopia says that a primary benefit of the Berchi project is “… now we love each other, we work together and benefit out of it.” A man says that the biggest change for him was that after his wife gave birth “I started to take care of everything for my wife,” so she could recover. Other people point to a culture of intimacy, harmony, and working together.

Economists are probably more interested in the fact that these people doubled their incomes and tripled their access to finance. With all due respect to economists, people in the communities Berchi worked with think you can’t have one without the other. Over and over, they told us that changing how they treated women—and what women believed about themselves—was incredibly important.

The Berchi project ran in Ethiopia from 2013-2015, with $1.1 million in support from the Austrian Development Cooperation.

What did we accomplish?

  • Income doubled: Families doubled their average income, up to $154 a year. 66% of them also expanded the number of sources of income, which makes them more resilient if one opportunity falls through.
  • Women are more involved in decisions: women are 37% more likely to be involved in decisions about crops, and twice as likely to make decisions about seeds.  They are 10 times more likely to be able to make decisions about family planning.
  • Poverty went down: Most participants went from below Ethiopia’s poverty threshold (about $75 a year) to having more than twice that annual income.
  • Services got better, and more people got them:There was a 34% increase in women’s access to agriculture extension, and access to microfinance tripled. There was also a 29% increase in women reporting that the judicial system was fair, and a 30% increase in feeling that traditional leaders were effective.
  • Traditions shifted to support women: 88% of respondents said that child marriage went down.  Men report taking on more household chores so women can take advantage of other opportunities. Women are much more likely to think it is acceptable to be a leader.

How did we get there?

  • Design projects with communities: The project got communities and local governments involved in designing activities and what the project would do, so they felt like it was their project, and that it benefitted them. The government even invested in providing seeds to communities who needed it.
  • Talk about the tricky stuff: The Social Analysis and Action process helps communities talk about complex and controversial things—like how women get treated, what happens with child marriage, and how traditions might be hurting the whole community. Communities felt that this process was one of the most important parts of the project.
  • Support the economics: The project offered training in 17 different activities people could use to create income.  They also gave out startup capital, like seeds and livestock, to jumpstart businesses.
  • Build a culture of savings: The project worked with 395 VSLAs that included 7,717 members.  That’s 3.5 times more than when the project started.
  • Change when you need to: the project worked flexibly and built in moments to check in with the communities and local government and fix what wasn’t working.

Want to learn more?

Check out the final evaluation or the project webpage on CARE Austria’s site.

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