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Engaging men and community leaders to advance women’s entrepreneurship in Tanzania

Progress stage
Jun 2024 to Jun 2028
  • Tanzania
  • Gender equality
  • Jun 2024 to Jun 2028

Hand in Hand International, in partnership with Innovations for Poverty Action, aims to test the impact of an enhanced version of its longstanding livelihoods model that supports women's economic empowerment. The new 5-step model introduces a gender-focused component that engages with men and community leaders, with the goal of shifting the social norms that perpetuate gender inequality and poverty. The intervention and impact evaluation will be implemented in Tanzania, with the intention to scale it up to four other countries.

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Femme dans un champ souriantFemme dans un champ souriant


Women often face social barriers that limit their economic opportunities and power within their families and communities. In Africa, these barriers include unequal access to education, early and forced marriages, biases against young women working, unequal land access, and the expectation that women should handle unpaid caregiving (Khan, 2020). Consequently, it is crucial to involve the whole community, especially men, in breaking down these barriers – in order for women succeed economically and socially.

In Tanzania, gender inequality and a lack of stable income-generating opportunities are key contributing factors to high poverty levels. Nearly 50% of the population live in absolute poverty, while it is estimated that poverty rates for women are much higher (World Bank, 2022). In rural Tanzania, more women than men work in agriculture (69% vs 64%), yet only 27% of agricultural landowners are women (K4D, 2018). Women’s average monthly income is barely half that of men, and many women are not paid at all: unpaid family helpers constitute 34.5% of those employed in agriculture, and twice as many women fall into this category as men.

Deux femmes qui rient


To enhance women entrepreneurship and agency, the UK-based NGO Hand in Hand International (HiH) has implemented a 4-step livelihood approach for nearly 20 years. According to Hand in Hand, this initiative has already supported the creation of 3.43 million enterprises and 5.57 million jobs.

Focusing on skills acquisition and credit access, the four steps of the model include setting up self-help groups, delivering training (business, skills, climate, gender), supporting women to access credit and helping them find links to bigger markets. According to previous estimates, following these four steps improves women’s incomes by an average of 30% within 3 years.

Through the FID Stage 2 grant, the HiH team, in partnership with Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), aims to test and compare the impact of its longstanding livelihoods 4-step model against a new, enhanced version that includes a fifth step—a gender-focused component. The purpose of this component is to shift social norms by engaging men and community leaders. The intervention and randomized impact evaluation are implemented in 144 villages of the Dodoma and Singida regions of Tanzania, with Jessica Goldberg (University of Maryland) as Principal Investigator.

Expected results

As a result of the study, Hand in Hand hope to understand better how to effectively engage the wider community surrounding women entrepreneurs and how the programme should be replicated and put on a larger scale. The programme will contribute to the evidence base on the incremental effects of male engagement in women’s economic empowerment initiatives. This evidence can also be leveraged to encourage governments to embed such models in social protection programming.

Hand in Hand will use the evidence generated by this programme to inform its growth strategy to reach 81,000 women a year by 2026. The women benefitting from the programme are expected to gain higher income from their businesses, which will be more profitable and resilient. The social norms would change in the rural communities to accept women entrepreneurship and participation in the economy, leading to women’s increased decision-making power.

Photos credit: ©Cartier Philanthropy / Karin Schermbrucker

Hand in Hand

Hand in Hand

Hand in Hand International is a registered non-profit organisation based in London. It is part of the Hand in Hand network, whose shared vision is to fight poverty through job and business creation. Photos credit: ©Cartier Philanthropy / Karin Schermbrucker


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