Economic Empowerment for Female Heads of Household in Liberia

April 1, 2008

The Economic Empowerment for Female Heads of Households Project will economically empower female heads of household to cater to the needs of their families and send their children and younger siblings to school by providing female single heads of households and at-risk girls with sustainable, community-based skills, business training and secondary education opportunities to allow them to become active, equal partners in decision making and the rebuilding of their communities.

The project will also provide additional monitoring and follow-up to girls trained last year to ensure that they are satisfactorily engaged in activities that will provide them with viable outcomes after their trainings and their siblings are still enrolled in and receiving educational services.This project, which is a continuation of a previous project, will support 80 female single headed households and girls and 20 of their siblings and as well as continuing to support 79 young women assisted under to the previous project funds.


The project enrolled 65 young girls who are either female heads of households or child mothers in a one-year vocational skills training course at the Business and Domestic Occupational Training Centre. The 65 beneficiaries acquired productive employment skills in pastry making, hotel management, interior decoration, tailoring, hairdressing and cosmetology.

Institutional sessions at the school provide 40 hours of theory in business start-up, running and managing businesses over a ten month period. In addition to the regular business courses, the IRC’s CYCLE project conducted two business training seminars in Montserrado County and in Nimba County. These sessions, which benefited 100 people, were intended to reinforce the regular business courses and refresher courses for graduates.

65 beneficiaries who completed training were provided with in-kind grants to kick-start their own businesses.

Case Study

Caroline Marpu Cole dropped out of school in eighth grade and, as a child mother, enrolled in the project in 2008. Before being enrolled at the center, she would tie her baby on her back and sell goods such as chewing gum, tissues, biscuits and toothbrushes from street to street for about twelve hours each day in order to provide for their daily needs.

Caroline attended the center regularly and participated actively in all class sessions. She is presently doing an internship at Jamal’s Pizzeria in downtown Monrovia. With her highly positive attitude towards work and learning, the owner of the pizzeria has decided to employ her immediately after graduation.

Caroline is now also making pastries at home and selling them in her community at weekends and on the days that she is not working. She says that when she was doing street selling she would make US$2 a day at most and her son was always sick and unhappy. Now that she has a profession, she makes at least US$5 per day.

“Even my mother, brother and sisters are all proud of me. Presently I am teaching my younger sister how to do different kinds of pastries. I know one day soon I will be a big business woman.”

Caroline Marpu Cole