“The Women’s Opportunity Center is the result of a community-led approach that involved many partners to create this permanent resource for the people of Kayonza,” said Afshan Khan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Women for Women International. “The WOC will promote future growth and prosperity in the region, and has the potential to reach over 28,000 women, their families, and communities in Kayonza district.”
In addition to training for participants of WfWI’s program and support services for graduates, the WOC will rent space for training sessions to partner organizations, create a market and retail space for local small businesses, a storage and workspace for lease, an event space, a demonstration farm, and lodging and restaurant services for tourists. These economic development initiatives will contribute to the Rwandan government’s Vision 2020 strategy, which aims to transition the country to a middle-income economy. The Ministry of Gender and Family promotion supported WfWI throughout the WOC construction process as the leading government partner spearheading women’s economic empowerment in Rwanda.
The development of the WOC into a sustainable social enterprise will require new partnerships. To this end, WfWI seeks to build on the capacity of organizations present in Rwanda. Through partnerships, WfWI program graduates will have access to employment and self-employment opportunities at the WOC.
“We are proud that a network of alliances and partners have committed to creating new economic development opportunities for women in Rwanda,” said Ms. Khan. “To create lasting peace and prosperity will require the full engagement of women as economic and social leaders in their community. WfWI is proud to be a part of that national agenda.”
The idea for a Women’s Opportunity Center in Kayonza grew out of an initial Bloomberg Philanthropies investment to establish a sustainable farming initiative in the region. Since 2008, Bloomberg Philanthropies has partnered with Women for Women International to create economic opportunities for women in Africa. In the next phase of the partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies, Women for Women International is working in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to train 40,000 women for long-term income and employment opportunities.