Livelihoods and economic empowerment

The best way for people to escape and stay out of poverty is to establish sustainable livelihoods.

By helping households diversify and strengthen their income streams for the long term, we ensure families will have better access to essentials like education and healthcare, and will be less dependent on government or overseas assistance to survive and thrive.

Women face particular challenges and disproportionate disadvantage in the developing world, including barriers to education, employment and finance. We place special emphasis on breaking down these barriers for women and helping them become agents of change in their communities.

Through our community partnerships in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, we:

  • establish women’s self-help and savings groups
  • offer and assist with micro-loans
  • provide women with technical training in livelihoods like bee keeping, running a piggery business, farming and poultry production
  • provide training in budgeting, marketing, negotiation skills and managing small businesses


livelihoodsCase study: Cambodia

Sopheal is a mother of two who lives on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. She weaves rugs, but her weaving business, together with her husband’s sporadic work as a wedding photographer, wasn’t enough to make ends meet.

Sopheal relied on a middleman, who brought her supplies and took her rugs away to sell, but he offered only 20 cents per rug and she didn’t have enough capital to continue investing in her business. Sopheal’s husband, Chamnap, was also away for months at a time, and they frequently fought about money when he was home, which was very hard on their children.

When Sopheal joined our Women in Action project, she received 500kg of cloth and 10kg of string, compared to the 25 – 50kg of cloth she’d bought in the past. She also became a member of a women’s savings group, where she was able to take out a loan with a low interest rate, allowing her to purchase weaving materials in bulk at a low price.

Chamnap also participated in a gender training program that taught him that there is more to contributing to a family than making money. He now stays home and works with Sopheal, supporting her business.

Sopheal now produces 20 rugs per day, and has increased her income from less than $5 to $13 per day. She has also been able to diversify her family’s income by purchasing cows and chickens that earn her over $200 per month.

“Life was very difficult. We didn’t have a goal for life, we were just surviving, just earning enough to eat. Now we have a plan for life and there is more happiness in the family.”

Sopheal and Chamnap now earn enough to send their children to school, and have even built a new home for themselves, turning the old one into Sopheal’s workshop.

Want to help more people like Sopheal create their own long-term livelihoods?

Action on Poverty

Action on Poverty