CLEMSON, South Carolina — Around the world, women face several obstacles to education and securing employment. In many developing countries, one of the only ways women can put food on the table is by running their own businesses. As a result, the rates of female entrepreneurship in developing countries tend to be significantly higher than in developed ones. Women entrepreneurs still face many challenges though, whether through legal discrimination, weak local economies or a lack of skills. Fortunately, thousands of small-scale business owners are receiving help from One Day’s Wages (ODW), a nonprofit organization that provides training and assistance to the women who need it most.
One Day’s Wages
In an interview with The Borgen Project, Jessinia Ruff, the development director of One Day’s Wages, describes the organization’s mission. “Our mission is to alleviate extreme global poverty through partnerships with grassroots organizations around the world.” Indeed, one aspect that makes ODW so special is how it focuses on aiding sustainable, local organizations in the developing world as opposed to large-scale operations. Ruff notes the significance of this, stating, “locally-led projects help for a long period of time, rather than being more of a band-aid and just benefiting some.”
ODW works by providing local organizations with funding through grants, enabling these groups to tackle problems that exist in specific regions. Each of these grants funds a project or a focused mission in one area. Context is everything and ODW realizes that one cannot solve the same problem in the same manner everywhere. For this reason, ODW’s project-focused approach to ending global poverty has garnered much success. The organization provides more than $1 million in grant aid every year, which directly supports thousands of people worldwide living in extreme poverty.
The family-run nonprofit is based in Seattle, Washington, but does work across the world. One Day’s Wages aims to end poverty where it is most severe, therefore, much of the organization’s work occurs in Africa and Southwest Asia, though it also leads projects in the Americas and other areas around the globe. ODW’s strategy for raising funds is simple: ODW asks patrons to donate one day of their wages to help the most impoverished people on Earth.
One Day’s Wages Supports Women Entrepreneurs
ODW works to solve 12 key issues relating to global poverty, launching projects under each issue. One of these issues is “Girls’ Empowerment,” which includes projects that help educate women and provide them with business training. This is monumentally important because there are more than 62 million girls globally who do not attend school.
When you consider the World Bank’s report indicating that “40% of the world’s economies have laws that limit a women’s ability to participate in the workforce,” it becomes apparent why poverty disproportionately impacts women. Without access to education, many jobs are out of reach for women in the developing world. This is especially true when combined with the severe discrimination that occurs in countries and markets. Oftentimes, a woman’s only option to make a living is through entrepreneurship. Unfortunately, many women entrepreneurs in developing countries lack access to the business training or skills they need for their businesses to truly succeed. This is where ODW comes in.
Empowering Girls in Tanzania
In Tanzania, only 17% of girls continue further than 7th-grade education. In response, ODW launched a project with the nonprofit Nurturing Minds to help girls in Tanzania gain skills in business to apply in the real world. As a result of this collaboration, 114 girls received hands-on business skills training, empowering the girls to start their own businesses. This entrepreneurship provided a means of stable, long-term income for not just the girls but their entire families too.
Similar projects have been launched in other regions of the world as well. In Rwanda, One Day’s Wages and the Kula Project teamed up to bring one-on-one mentorship to female coffee farmers. These women would see a “37% increase in coffee harvest yield” and a “35% increase in income.”
This is no small feat as the income of these farmers only comes in for a few months of the year on a seasonal basis. Similar projects have been launched to help women entrepreneurs in Kenya, Afghanistan and other developing nations.
The list of successful projects from ODW goes on as the organization continuously strives to engage with at-risk communities through project-based work. Seeing as women in the developing world have families to raise, face discrimination and lack access to crucial resources, these projects are invaluable. The problems these women face are numerous, but no two circumstances are the same. For this reason, specific ODW’s projects with local organizations are integral.
Supporting One Day’s Wages and Women Entrepreneurs
Whether one’s interest lies in supporting girls’ empowerment or any of ODW’s other 11 focal issues, the individual has complete control over their donation’s destination when supporting ODW. There is also the option to donate to the general fund for One Day’s Wages, which Ruff says, “is great because we can use that to fund what is needed in the moment.” This has helped during the COVID-19 pandemic. She says many issues receive more news coverage than other worthy issues, therefore, donating to the general fund is a great way to ensure that poverty is addressed on all fronts.
Entrepreneurship provides a pathway to a livelihood for women across the world — an avenue that ODW has opened up for women globally. To assist women entrepreneurs, there are several ways to support ODW’s work, such as the simple, selfless act of pledging one’s birthday.
Ruff emphasizes that “100% of donations go right to the grants for a project,” therefore, the organization assures the donor that every cent goes toward helping people in need. Through its initiatives and impact, One Day’s Wages proves its place as a champion in the fight against poverty.
– Jeremy Long