Global evidence suggests that adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) who develop financial goals and assets are more likely to make informed decisions about their health and wellbeing, reducing their vulnerability to HIV, gender-based violence (GBV), early marriage, and unplanned pregnancy. Bantwana’s market-based Siyakha Girls model is designed to strengthen the economic resilience of vulnerable AGYW (ages 15-24) through financial literacy and savings groups and vocational training and mentored internships in high growth sectors, layered with social asset building and linkages to essential health and social services.
The model has eight key steps sequenced to facilitate participants’ retention in the program and set them up for sustainable livelihoods, combining their savings with start-up support. This graduated approach enables AGYW to successfully transition to full-time employment or entrepreneurship.
Based on a decade of experience implementing youth workforce readiness programs in Zimbabwe, Bantwana piloted and formally evaluated Siyakha Girls under the USAID/ASPIRES project in partnership with FHI360 and Dot Youth in 2018-2019. Based on the success of the pilot, PEPFAR selected Siyakha Girls as one of five evidence-based comprehensive economic strengthening models approved for use in DREAMS programming.
To support DREAMS partners and others to adopt and adapt the model, Bantwana launched the Siyakha Girls Economic Empowerment Initiative. From a regional hub in Zimbabwe, the initiative is supporting DREAMS programs in six countries (Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia) to adapt and scale the model for different national contexts in both rural and urban settings. Along with the Siyakha Girls Toolkit and Guide, Bantwana offers a flexible package of remote and in-person technical assistance:
- Expert advice for adapting and scaling the model to other contexts
- Step-by-step technical support, including for conducting a labor market assessment
- Training of trainers for delivering Siyakha curricula
- Training local implementers and monitoring their ability to apply the model with fidelity
With our partners, Bantwana is forming a learning community to expand knowledge and practice in advancing young women’s economic empowerment.