Women Empowerment

Being a women right's activist, I fight for "Women Empowerment" and amplifying women workers’ voices for decent working conditions.

Photo of Nazma Akter
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  • Yes, I fulfill all of the eligibility criteria.

Initiative's representative name

Nazma Akter

Initiative's representative date of birth


Initiative’s representative gender

  • Woman

Which eligible market are you based in?

  • Bangladesh

Where are you making a difference?

Dhaka, Bangladesh

Website or social media url(s)

Website: http://awajfoundation.org/ Facebook: Awaj Foundation Twitter: @Awaj_fdn

When was your organisation founded?

01 January 2003

Focus areas

  • Financial skills and capability
  • Reskilling and upskilling the workforce

Project Stage

  • Established (successfully passed early phases, have a plan for the future)

Yearly Budget: How much capital do you need to accomplish your proposed project?

  • $50k - $100k

Organisation Type

  • Non-profit / NGO

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this to succeed

I started my journey in the RMG sector as a child labor at the age of 11. I worked alongside my mother, who was also a garment worker. Witnessing ongoing harassment at the factory, I started protesting all the injustice against workers, specially women workers. My family and I faced lots of challenges over the years due to the organizing activities on labor and women rights - for example, I lost my job, was beaten by police during processions, was ostracized by my neighbors for being a ‘bad girl’ and faced sexual harassment, physical abuses by local anti-socials. I was blacklisted and false police cases were lodged against me to limit my movements. Actually these obstacles made me more strong,determined and focused to be a fighter!

2. The problem: What problem surrounding employability or financial capability are you helping to solve?

In terms of Financial capability, Bangladeshi women garment workers are not able to: -Properly Manage money well in day-to-day life -No Plan and saving for the future -No preparation for the future and unexpected events -Lack of understanding to avoid unnecessary costs -No financial freedom to make the choices that allow them to enjoy life -Less respect in 'Decision Making' in the family and community as they have no/less 'Capital'

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Considering all the facts and opportunities, Training are the most effective way to increase the financial capability in our country. We usually cover core topics for these training like basics on financial literacy and capability, personal financial management for planning and keeping track of their income and expenses, savings (in hand and in the Banks as well), cost minimization, planning for future, emergency financial situation, plan for old age/retirement etc. Beside that, we give them training to develop their soft skills, sewing machine etc to skill them to be prepared for any critical financial situation.

4. How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solving the problem?

Before giving them training, we observe from our initial study that who has some knowledge on financial issues (maintaining and managing), get more dignity from their family,community and society. We found that they are lagging behind only for the lack of knowledge and awareness on financial issues even their income/family income was not very poor. So we decided to make them understand that they have resource but just need to focus on some more issues like cost handling, avoid unnecessary costs and save for the future. We started giving them training on 'Financial Capability' covering the said topics. This idea just really clicked and we thus started to bring change in their lives and the society as well!

(Instructions for questions 5 and 6, no answer required) Please only answer the question (5 - “employability” or 6 - “financial capability”) that applies to your organization’s topic of work (see below for definitions)


5. Employability: how is your organization or project teaching people to develop the skills that they need to survive in the future job market?


5a. Please describe which future-oriented skills your organization is focused on fostering and how you have measured / plan to measure progress


6. Financial capability: how is your organization or project creating innovative solutions that arm people with ability to optimize their current and future financial health

Through the training, we try to enrich their knowledge on the followings: # Review current fin:Situation: Review of debts, savings etc. will help them to determine if their financial situation appears to be on track or not and plan accordingly # Avoid bad debt: We make them understand that they don’t have to spend ‘lavishly’ on clothing, accessories and gifts or any other when they are already in considerable debt # Think about other options: We encourage them to source any other income option or invest at their minimum level. And we suggest them the most common and safest options available for them # Stick to fin:Goals: We suggest them to maintain a small pocket diary or use mobile/app to track daily spending by honesty and as detailed as possible # Update fin:knowledge: We suggest them to do all the financial dealings (important or less important!) by themselves or to be present

6a. Please describe what aspect of financial capability your organization is focused on fostering and how you have measured / plan to measure progress.

We focus on 3 core aspects: #Making end meet: They earn/manage enough money to buy what they need to live #Keeping track: They are paying attention on all their financial issues #Planning ahead: They are reducing debt and saving for future After a certain time of the training we measure on: Savings/Debt: how much savings/credit the have; how much debt is reduced Fin: Vulnerability: how much Vulnerability is reduced Future: What is the Plan for future savings Avoid ability: How much they can avoid unnecessary costs Respect: Are they involved in ‘Decision Making’ in family and community

7. Marketplace: Who else is addressing the same problem? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

To the best of our knowledge, only the government of Bangladesh is addressing the same problem. But Government is targeting the rural area people, where we are targeting female workers only from Ready Made Garments Sector and their community. Not only we are providing training to garments workers, but also we are providing awareness sessions to the male members of their family to increase sensibility Which makes our project pretty unique

8. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

We have provided training to over 10,000 women workers so far. Some of them become our leaders and still helps us to find more recruit for training. around 78% says that these training changed their view on life, they now know how to save money for future, how to make better future for their family. It also helps them to eat proper foods, not wasting money on junk foods which also helps to maintain good health.

9. Financial Sustainability Plan. Can you tell us about you plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

Right now we are pitching our ideas to different donor agencies for additional funding. our short term plan is to find funding to reach out to another 10000 ready made garments workers. Our mid term and long term plan is to increase our membership around 1 million and introduce a monthly subscription system. from these monthly subscription, we will be able to fund our future projects.

10. Team

we are women led organization. All of our executive board members are female. Our dedication is to improve the life of women workers. In our team, hierarchy system is followed. at first project director is the head of the project. following that there is a project coordinator who is responsible for overall maintaining the project, a M&E officer who is responsible for M&E of projects, a supervisor who is responsible for overseas all field activities and field officers looks after field works

Help Us Support Diversity! Are you a member of an under-served , under-represented, or marginalized group in your country of residence? (yes/no) (this question is optional – if you choose to fill it out, the response will not be shared with your fellow contestants)

  • This does not apply to me

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Ashoka page or contact

11. Bring it to life: Please walk us through a concrete example of how your solution will solve the problem you’re trying to address

We believe following changes in our trainee workers after “Financial capability” trainings: # as we have suggested, maintaining a small pocket diary or use mobile/app to track daily spending by honesty and as detailed as possible, will definitely show them accurate figures and actual financial situation. Then they will be able to review their overall financial decisions they have taken # by reviewing previous financial decisions, they will be able find out core areas to change or improve and will make a new plan # after that, they will be able to find out and avoid bad debts and will be able to start ‘SAVINGS’ # then, they will be able to think about other options of small investments from the most common and safest options available for them # this will make an edition to their income which will motivate them to be Stick to their new financial plan they have made.

12. Skills Matching: HSBC Employees will have the opportunity to offer skilled-volunteering. If matched, which of the following skills would you be most interested in receiving?

  • Planning & Strategy
  • Project Management
  • Research
  • Staff Development
  • IT Infrastructure/CRM
  • Web/Mobile Development

13. Financial Sustainability – funding breakdown: please list a quick breakdown of your funding, indicating an estimated percentage that comes from each source.

Here is the breakdown of the points which best matches with us:

1. Foundation or NGO grants: 60%

2. Grants or contracts: 30%

2. Individual donations or gifts: 10%

14. Financial Sustainability – please tell us more about how you plan to fund and scale your project over the next 12 months.

We have yearly budget nearly 300k for different projects. Almost all the funds are provided by different donors and grants. For my proposed project, if get selected I will try to fund it through future skills innovative challenges project supported by Ashoka and HSC. If not, I will try to fund it through my existing programs and merge with them. Generally our funding for operations are usually with 20-30% and rest are 70-80% program costs.

15. Growth Strategy: What are your main strategies for scaling your impact?

We will measure skills that we are giving through our trainings for their empowerment through monitoring and evaluation.This will help us to give more focus in our work also.

16. Activating changemakers: How are you giving people the power to control their own destiny and support other people to become changemakers in their communities?

We are working to empower our women's because we believe that our trained workers will:

# Recognize that women are equally intelligent and storehouse of immense talent

# Reduce scope domestic violence and sexual exploitation

# Eradicate corruption

# Facilitate national development

# Promote an overall development of society

Surely they will spread their believes to the other peoples of their community and thus the chain of realizing the facts will go on and this will support other people to become change makers in their communities.

17. Awards & Recognitions: What awards or recognitions, if any, has the project received so far?


18. Tell us about how collaborations and partnerships would enhance the scalability and impact of your project

I believe that collaborations and partnerships will surely provide the project new views, aspects of thinking with new ideas! Mentioning some points only:

# New thoughts, ideas and views of all will help us all to overcome any critical situation

# Benefit of more opportunities (like grants or others) will be explored as well as make a bridge for more exposure.

# Any type of resource sharing will benefit the project and proactive teamwork will help overcoming the obstacles

Finally - Your Selfie Elevator Pitch: Share a 1-minute video that shares a quick summary of the problem you would like to solve, how you’ve chosen to solve it, and the impact you hope to see.

1 comment

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Photo of HopeBox Vietnam

A wonderful contribution to Bangladesh. I particularly enjoyed reading that you have provided training to over 10,000 female workers so far and that some of them then become leaders (they're empowered!) and continue to recruit more women for training.