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The impact of 100WEEKS' project in an eye of a Nebu insider

100WEEKS is a Dutch organization focused on helping women in developing countries to get out of poverty. At Nebu we support the initiative by offering free software along with technical expertise. This means that many of us, here at Nebu, are involved in supporting the organization on a regular basis. Our colleague, Blanka shares how this project resonates with her on a more personal note. 

The impact of 100WEEKS' project in an eye of a Nebu insider

Blanka Galne Biro
Posted on 16 June 2020 in CSR
by Blanka Galne Biro
6 min

Nowadays, the concept of social responsibility seems to be more prevalent than ever before. We are non-stop being confronted with harsh predictions and dark prophecies about what will happen to our world, the generations' responsibility for their actions, and even more so, about the apparent lack of awareness and consideration, planning and action around securing the future for our children and the generations to come.

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We, as a human race, have created this world around us, we shaped it to its present form. Nobody needs history lessons or geographical and economical studies to be aware that the distribution of well-being, goods, wealth and prosperity is not equal. There are so-called "happier" and “less fortunate” parts of the world, where Request/Require/Demand/Need are common and core words that define local consciousness.

And there are parts of the world where “Need” means something utterly different than for us, living in the privileged so-called “Western-world”.

We all are familiar with the meanings of expressions like the "third world", the "developing countries”, but in the majority of cases and for the most of us, these references do not have any depth. We live too far, in physical, financial and mental terms. Sometimes we do not realize that for a staggering amount of people - whole countries, whole communities - the world "need" holds a two-fold meaning: the demands of now and the prospects of the future. The now means food, medicaments, blankets.  The future means work, wages, school, progress, growth. Both are often very elusive and neither accessible nor secure. And while the fulfillment of the demands of now can bring swift and spectacular outcomes, the importance of short-term triumphs is overshadowed by a much larger prospect. That is the challenge of bringing the long-term change possible. It is a struggle to secure a sustainable way of living, offering people a little bit of peace of mind, and a way to meet their basic human needs.  When people are struggling with surviving in the now, the word “ future” means hardly anything.

The concept of 100WEEKS is exactly answering that need. They offer immediate help for the people living in the most extreme poverty-stricken areas of earth, by connecting those who can offer help with those who need it the most - not via multiple layers of transfer and overlap, but directly, immediately and very efficiently.

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The company is active in three African countries today: in Rwanda, Uganda and Ghana. The innovative method ensures that out of all donations 80% directly goes to those in need, which is an extraordinary percentage. The program lasts 100 weeks in each group of 20 women - the participants are provided a phone, to which they received a code each Monday. In exchange for this code, the money transferring stations provide them 8 dollars each week, without any terms or conditions, without any obligations. They can spend these 8 dollars on whatever they feel best.

Why only women? And why only 8 dollars?

In the developing countries the concept, that the women are the upholders of the family structure, is more prevalent. The women, although they are often considered as the more vulnerable members of  society, are those who care for the children, the members of the wider family; they have the deep prevalent need to provide food and shelter for them. Therefore they are the ones who can actively see and understand the immediate needs of their surroundings and can plan for the tomorrow and the days after. The weekly money transfers provide them the opportunity to gradually increase the quality of life, beginning from such fundamental needs as having more than one meal per day, purchasing medicaments or clothes for their children. The continuity of the program provides safety and possibilities to plan ahead for those women who did not know earlier what tomorrow brings.

The absolute necessity of the project is pinpointed with data collected first when a new group of women enters into the program and then repeatedly throughout the entire period every few weeks, recording the progress of their living situation. This is the point where Nebu connects to this program and we are very proud to be able to help facilitate the ultimate goal of the initiative. 

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We host the base questionnaire that screens, monitors and supports the follow-ups of the participants. The initial entry questionnaire contains a general survey of the conditions of these women in terms of their lives, their families, their financial situation. This is the point zero from which the effectiveness of the program can then be measured. The first questionnaire contains some questions that might seem shocking for “Western-world” citizens, for example "Throughout the past week, how many times have your children gone to bed hungry?", or "How many of your family members have more than one set of clothes?" For these women, this is the harsh reality. And this program sets a goal to turn this around into effective action.

The subsequent questionnaires contain the same questions, with some minor changes or additions. Through these follow-up sets of questions and answers, the individual progress of the women and the overall effectiveness can also be measured in different fields of targeted action.

And we constantly see truly unremarkable outcomes. Eight dollars seem very little. Can it change a lot? Yes! From the very first follow-up round it turns out that this amount literally changes lives. The women in the first run are able to provide more daily meals - in increasing quality -  for their children, and can access clean water for cooking and consumption.  Because this is the first and foremost necessity - everything goes smoother and easier from this moment on. With proper food not only more energy can be retained for work and life challenges, but it makes their bodies stronger thus more resistant to illnesses. As the most basic needs are met, in the next round the women become capable of purchasing clothes, medicines, repairing materials for their houses... you name it. And when the focus is shifted from the day to day survival, these women are seen to be capable of heroic pragmatism to plan far ahead.

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The woman who purchased a small sewing machine and started to make clothes for her family and then sell clothes for the neighborhood, slowly providing a steady income for herself. The woman who bought a small strip of land and started to grow vegetables which are sold at the market to also mean a steady influx of money even after the end of the program. Because the goal of the program is not only to shelter  these women for the duration of 100 weeks  but to provide opportunities and keep them sustainably out of poverty.

The weekly 8 dollars do not give them food. It gives them power. It saves them. It gives them back their lives. And through their own power, they can have - and shape - their own future.

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To read in details about the design of the research project in Africa you can read an article published in the April's issue of the Market Research Society's magazine IMPACT.

IMPACT

To read more about Nebu's CSR program click here.

Hear the story of how 100WEEKS' research specialists (Johannes von Engelhardt and Yvonne van Dalen) have designed the study, and how they "Collect, Manage and Utilize" data to measure and report the impact of the program supporting women in rural Rwanda, Ghana and Uganda on their way out of extreme poverty you can watch this webinar recording.

To learn more about how Nebu can help you, download this brochure or request a call with our specialist by submitting this short form on the right, so we can guide you further.

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