Income Mama

Adopt A Village: Alternative Income and Livelihood

Our holistic and sustainable development model is designed to empower communities with the tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty.

Our Alternative Income and Livelihood pillar makes a particular impact on women, who receive the training and support they need to increase their income-generating skills. These skills are then passed on to friends and children, ensuring longterm, sustainable solutions to a household’s and a community’s economic challenges.

When mothers are given the education, tools and skills to earn a living, they are in a position to provide for their children. And they do—sending them to school, accessing health care and ensuring they don’t have to go to work to help support the family. Empowered women also have more freedom to shape their own lives, acting as role models to and holding out a hand to the generation of girls behind them.

We know that when a woman has a voice in how her family spends money, she invests in her family. That’s why investing in a woman’s earning potential transforms communities.

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Know The Facts

  • 1in 6 people in developing communities lives on less than $1.25 a day
  • In most countries, women only earn 60 to 75% of what men earn, but work longer hours with less time for education and self-care
  • The world economy could increase by 17 trillion dollars if we could close the employment and wage gap between men and women

How We Work

Our Alternative Income and Livelihood training projects are different in each Adopt a Village country, and are based on each community’s culture, traditions, resources, habits, climate, environment and more.

Our staff works in partnership with local organizations and advocacy groups to provide the community with the skills they need to create a sustainable business. We start groups—women’s groups, men’s groups, even youth groups—and teach group members skills like budgeting, how to hold meetings and take minutes, as well as conflict resolution and leadership.

After building community members’ knowledge of financial principles and leadership, Free The Children works with them to change their financial behavior and engages them in income-generating activities such as savings and loans groups. Over time, we see growth in annual household income and an increase in the household’s annual savings, resulting in an improvement in the health and welfare of families and entire communities.

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Free The Children’s alternative income projects in partner communities include:

  • Animal husbandry, which includes milking/breeding animals
  • Vocational training
  • Business and financial literacy workshops
  • Leadership and skills training
  • Honey production
  • Artisans projects
  • Girls’ clubs
  • Women’s and Men’s lending circles and support groups

Our Impact

Since initiating our Alternative Income and Livelihood pillar, 30,000 women have been provided with economic self-sufficiency tools. And this has had a direct impact on the health and welfare of their families and their communities.

Empowering women, specifically, to become income earners is smart economics—it improves the financial and health outcomes of the entire community. Here’s why:

  • When women have greater control over household income, they change their family’s spending in ways that benefit the children by investing more in food and education.
  • Women who work have fewer children. Smaller families tend to have more resources at their disposal, and mothers need to spend less time caring for children, cooking and cleaning.
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Mohani Bai squats next to one of her three goats and gently squeezes the udders over a tin bucket. Later that day, she will give this nutritious milk to the children in her community of Kamoda, India, so they can continue to grow healthy and strong. Her gentle demeanour and kind eyes attract children of all ages looking for not only a cup of delicious goat’s milk, but also a warm smile. Mohani Bai lost all three of her children during childbirth, and has since become a ‘godmother’ in her tiny village, encouraging the children to attend school.

Mohani Bai is also a Free The Children ambassador. Despite being illiterate, she has proven to be a strong leader within her community and has implemented a goat rearing project as a form of livelihood development for women in her tribe. With her assistance, 60 goats were distributed to women who also received training on proper care. As one of the women elected to manage the group’s collective bank account, she is responsible for ensuring they deposit savings each month, earned from selling goat meat and milk. Thanks to Mohani Bai’s guidance, these women say they have dignity because they can control their own income.

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In addition to her goat rearing expertise, Mohani Bai helps her husband in the fields with their corn and wheat crops. They both received training in best agricultural practices to improve the productivity of their land and now enjoy a higher crop yield. Her husband also breaks rock from the hillside to sell for construction projects.

Mohani Bai’s determination to improve the quality of life in her village has defined her as a prominent leader. She’s playing a pivotal role in its development and sharing her skills with others while encouraging children to attend the local Free The Children primary school. We have no doubt that with her guidance, Kamoda will continue to thrive.