Empowering Congolese refugee women in the Western Cape through microfinance
Thesis (MDF)--University of Stellenbosch, 2011.
In many developing countries, culture and tradition have contributed to the disempowerment of women. In these countries, a women's time is divided between the reproductive role of creating a family, the productive role of feeding the family, and balancing all the demands. This has resulted in 1) higher unemployment rate for women than men in virtually every developing country as reported by the World Bank gender statistics database, and 2) women having low self-confidence and self-esteem. Furthermore, when living outside their country with little or almost nothing, refugee women live in camps, temporary shelters, collective centres or rent a house in a host country where they compete with the local populations for property as well as natural and social resources, while being excluded from some of the basic rights through restrictive regulations imposed by the host country. Building upon the widely known facts that women more likely reinvest their earnings in a business and their families and spend more of their extra income on things that help develop human capital, better sanitation, better nutrition and also better health care and education, this study addresses the application of microfinance with the objective of empowering Congolese refugee women in the Western Cape in South Africa. The theoretical contributions of this study are twofold. Firstly, an analysis of the situation of the Congolese refugee women is presented in terms of their predicaments and opportunities in SA, using a survey. Secondly, building upon the conclusions of this survey, a support and empowerment microfinance approach adapted to the Congolese refugee women community is derived. As practical contribution, this study proposes the development of a business model that will cater for Congolese women refugees and its implementation through the creation of a non-governmental organisation in the Western Cape.