King Baudouin Foundation Africa Prize recognizes women-focused Tanzanian organisation

Africa Science News

The King Baudouin Foundation has awarded the 2023-2024 Africa Prize to Her Initiative, in recognition of its work to unlock women’s economic potential, tackle the youth unemployment crisis and accelerate economic and social development in sub-Saharan Africa.

Tanzania has made significant progress on women’s empowerment and women’s rights. Yet, 60% of women still live in poverty and many don’t have access to the resources they need to shape their future and participate in economic development1. As a youth-first and women-led organisation,

Her Initiative offers a range of innovative and holistic programmes which equip young women with the education, skills and resources needed to enter the job market or run their businesses.

Notably, Her Initiative aims to remove persisting barriers by leveraging the power of technology to advance digital inclusion among young women and girls. Its Panda Digital platform uses SMS technology to deliver learning courses in Swahili to young women with limited internet access, and its Digimali project helps young entrepreneurs scale up their businesses online.

Since its foundation in 2019, Her Initiative has reached over 15,000 young women and girls through its programmes, including supporting over 200 women to launch a business through Panda on the Ground and enabling 2,805 more to digitalise an existing business.

To support the next phase of its development in Tanzania and beyond, the KBF Africa Prize will provide Her Initiative with 200,000 euros (about560 million Tanzanian shillings), as well as the opportunity to connect with the King Baudouin Foundation’s international network of non-profit organisations and development professionals.

With this support, Her Initiative aims to expand its programmes in Tanzania and across East Africa to reach 100,000 more women over the next five years. It will also use the funds to bring together an ecosystem of youth organisations to facilitate knowledge sharing, share resources, and harness the power of African youth.

“Gender-based violence, underage marriage and HIV are just a few examples of the problems that are stopping women from going to school, getting a job and breaking the cycle of poverty. My friends and I experienced these barriers when we were in high school, and so started to look for solutions to the challenges we were coming up against. And that’s how Her Initiative started,” said Lydia Charles Moyo, Founder and Executive Director of Her Initiative.

Lydia added that already they support young women to build their financial resilience in six Tanzanian regions, but with the “KBF Africa Prize we will be able to scale our work to help so many more women to achieve their dreams in Tanzania and beyond.”

The 2023-2024 Africa Prize will be presented to Her Initiative at an awards ceremony today at the Royal Palace of Laeken in Brussels. The organisation was selected from a pool of more than 400 applicants by an independent committee of 12 international experts, including past winners of the KBF Africa Prize.

Bilikiss Adebiyi-Abiola, Chair of the KBF Africa Prize Selection Committee 2023-2024 said the selection committee was highly impressed with Her Initiative’s combined approach to advancing women’s rights and financial independence. “Coupled with its innovative use of modern technologies and strategic local partnerships, Her Initiative is a highly deserving recipient of this year’s KBF Africa Prize. We look forward to seeing what the team achieves in the years to come.”

The KBF Africa Prize recognises African organisations working to drive African-led solutions to the challenges facing the continent and to sustainably improve the lives of Africans. The Prize plays a transformative role in helping organisations scale up and advocate for their work on a wider stage. Several past laureates, including Dr. Denis Mukwege, Elman Peace and Grameen Bank, have since been awarded and shortlisted for the Nobel Peace Prize.

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