Intrinsic empowerment, financial wellbeing and entrepreneurial spirit of women who have suffered severe gender-based violence

Promote economic development in vulnerable women attending to “La Ciudad de las Mujeres” in Tlapa de Comfort, Guerrero, Mexico

Photo of Karina
1 1

Written by


  • Yes, I fulfill all of the eligibility criteria.

Initiative's representative name

Thais Malavé Reinoza

Initiative's representative date of birth


Initiative’s representative gender

  • Woman

Which eligible market are you based in?

  • Mexico

Where are you making a difference?

Hidalgo, Jalisco, Ecatepec, Oaxaca y Guerrero.

Website or social media url(s)

When was your organisation founded?


Focus areas

  • Financial skills and capability

Project Stage

  • Pilot (have done first proof of concept)

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

  • $10k - $50k

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

Since its founding in 1985, IMIFAP had concentrated on health prevention programs based on life skills development and reduction of psychosocial barriers. Then, in 1999, through a 3year health, rights and empowerment program we promoted the empowerment of 39, 000 women in the Mixteca region, Oaxaca, through knowledge and life skills development. After the program, the women were able to deal with many everyday situations and take autonomous decisions to improve their quality of life. However, something was missing: the economic resources that would help them leave the circle of poverty. To support rural women’s economic independence, we developed a village bank and microenterprise program. More than 6,877 women and men have been trained.

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

Poverty is high in Mexico: 41.9% of the population lives in poverty and %7.4 in extreme poverty; 42.5% of poor people (52.2 millions) are women. In the state of Guerrero this situation is worst as seven out of 10 women lack enough to cover basic needs related to food, housing and education. Women living in poverty face several difficulties to avoid or escape gender based violence as they have less economic independence and fewer escape routes.

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

Our program builds women victims ́ life skills, imparting key financial, business, leadership and entrepreneurial skills and reducing their barriers to change all aligned with ongoing service provision by the local Women´s Justice Centers. Through this unique combination, each woman participant will become a role model of empowerment, self-care and financial autonomy who pulls her children and family away from violent dynamics, patterns of gender inequality and the cycle of poverty, and creates sustainable employment opportunities for other women to do so as well. The intervention model that underlies the program is divided into three stages that are described below. In the first stage, the participants learn about saving and creating community banks and microenterprises and develop self-knowledge, self-efficacy, decision-making and communication skills. In a second stage, the village banks continue to function, and the participants interested create or develop their own microenterprises or productive activities.

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

Over the past year, we launched a new best-practice model in Hidalgo that leverages our historical work with women, including on sexual health and gender-based violence, bringing it into our most recent work on financial education and entrepreneurship. How do we know this is innovative? A 2019 OECD policy note found that foundations’ support for gender equality over 2013-15 represented 16% of all philanthropic flows over these three years, yet only a small proportion of these funds address women’s specific needs, and support in the economic and productive sectors is even more limited. This work is not yet the norm, and resources for it are severely scarce. There has been interest expressed from “La Ciudad de las Mujeres” in Tlapa de Comfort

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

Our methodology is based on participatory education that consists of a set of methods, techniques and/or activities that enable individuals to play an active and influential role in the decisions and actions that affect their lives. In all of our awareness-raising, training and replication activities we encourage participants to use their previous knowledge, opinions, emotions and experiences as the background to assimilate the program contents, and build up their learnings. During the training workshops and replication activities, participants reflect, talk, listen, and take small actions that share in small teams, and then in the larger group with the guide of a facilitator (trainer) who conduct a joint analysis and help to shape the learnings. Because it comes from within the individuals and the group, this process leads to viable and sustainable changes in the participants.

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

Financial capability refers to having the knowledge, understanding, skills, motivation and confidence to make financial decisions which are appropriate to one’s personal circumstances. Our theory of change moves women from the first to the last of these, with behavior change, personal agency and intrinsic empowerment resulting. Evaluation data will be collected using a pre-post design (before and after every workshop) and self-report questionnaires that will be completed by all the participants.

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

Public and private initiatives, in order to empower poor women, simply providing microcredits to them, are not enough: a large number of women beneficiaries does not necessarily mean that women’s position is improved by the microfinance programs. In addition, even when programs successfully alleviate poverty, they do not necessarily increase gender equality, as women’s subordination is not caused by the poverty, even though the poverty does aggravate the gender inequalities. Violence increases such psychosocial barriers to change as guilt and fear.

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

From 2002 to 2006, the productivity program was successfully implemented with 600 women in 20 communities in the state of Oaxaca, in order to develop the knowledge, motivation and skills required to initiate a process of personal development and empowerment and start up a small business or productive activity as an additional alternative to escape from gender violence. Women established 17 community banks, increased saving and lent money with a 100% rate of loan repayment; 300 women started a small business. The program led to self-sustaining productivity projects which expanded the economic opportunities and improved quality of life in the communities. At this moment, we have a 3-year program for the reduction of gender violence and promotion of women's economic development (from 2020 to 2022) aimed at 150 users of the Justice Center for Women of Hidalgo.

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?

The sustainability of the project will be ensured by: The establishment of alliances with local government, the productive sector and other NGO´s to continue and expand the program once it has been concluded and evaluated incorporating the lessons learned.

10. Team

General project coordinator: in charge of the program strategy, the institutional linkage with local authorities, and the elaboration of partial and final reports. Field coordinator: in charge of the program’s logistics and coordination in training and evaluation activities. Educational material team: in charge of elaborating and editing training manuals and developing key messages. Facilitators: in charge of implementing trainings with women.

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)

  • Race
  • Ethnic group
  • Gender
  • Socioeconomic class

If you selected “yes” to any of the categories above, please explain how being a member of this group has impacted you and your work?

During 2015, 2016 and 2017, Yo quiero Yo puedo led a comprehensive community development program in 66 communities of Metlatónoc, Guerrero, a region where 40% of the girls are sold into marriage. Through a participatory process, and hand in hand with local government staff, we carried out 717 experiential training workshops. As a result, in 2016, 5 communities worked for their local government to end the sale of girls for marriage, and 3 of them - Yuvinani, Valle de Durazno and Juquila.

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Ashoka page or contact

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of HopeBox Vietnam

Loved it! Particularly, your use of "awareness-raising" in which you use training and replication activities which therefore encourages participants to use their previous knowledge, opinions, emotions and experiences as the background to assimilate the program content.