Meet women who make a change

To honour International Women´s Day, we present the women from Sub-Saharan Africa we work and partner with.

Because it is International Women’s Day 2022, we would like to present some amazing women that are related to Action10. By explaining their role in the organization, we also hope to increase your understanding of the way we operate and the positive impact that, together with them, we generate.

Millicent, team leader in Kenya

Without further delay, let’s start with Millicent. Millicent fulfills the role of team leader in our RISE center in Kenya. We can understand RISE centers as branches of our organization located in different African countries. RISE centers provide consultancy, workshops, and support to all the participants in our projects. Millicent, for example, has the vital role of contributing to the evaluation protocols of the projects, developing reports, as well as other things. You can read more about Millicent and an interview we conducted with her – Meet Millicent, our team leader in Kenya.

Millicent Sifuna, team leader in RISE centre, Kenya

“Empowering people, especially the marginalized, is what motivates me.”


Virginia, social entrepreneur

Next, we would like to introduce Virginia. Virginia is one of our partners in Kenya. This means she is one of the social entrepreneurs that accessed one of our loans and with whom our team in Africa is working side by side to develop her business further. Recently, Virginia told us that raising the living standards of people around her was one of the things that motivated her to start a business. You can learn more about Virginia and read the full interview on the programme page – Developing a retail business in Kenya.

Virginia, a social entrepreneur, founder and owner of the business in Kenya

Hope for a better tomorrow is what motivates me in the first place.


Women from a Togo village

Third, we would like to introduce all the women who participate in our programme in rural Togo. These women assist in workshops and receive coaching from a RISE center and work very hard to beat poverty and take care of their families.

Some of the activities they do involve selling maize, local drinks, fruits, among other things. They also include setting up tailoring or hairdressing businesses. Because of this, many of them are now happy to contribute to the well-being of their families like, for example, taking care of the school fees of their children. You can support them and learn more about the programme – Small business endeavours in Togo.

A group of women attending a worskhop for starting a business, in a Togo village

The women involved in the programme are more appreciated since they started their business and, as they testify – joy joined their families!

Learn more about our programmes

Read more about our programmes and join our African partners in finding a sustainable way out of poverty.

Meet Millicent, our team leader in Kenya

“Empowering people, especially the marginalized, is what motivates me.”

Millicent is a Master’s graduate in Medical and Veterinary Entomology from the University of Nairobi. She has worked in marginalized communities as a volunteer graduate assistant.

Apart from supporting and strengthening education outcomes in the community, she participated in community sensitization programs addressing hunger and food insecurities.

When the founder of Action10 and HR&S, Cecilia Öman, came to the University of Nairobi to hold a Research management workshop, Millicent noted that they shared common values, goals, and interests. That´s how their collaboration started!

Millicent, team leader at RISE centre in Kenya

I believe a paradigm shift will occur because there will be more opportunities for women all around that they can harness regardless of their level of education or social economic status.

As our coach, Millicent helps design programmes in Kenya and perform evaluation planning, works with stakeholder analysis and stakeholder management, develops and implements business plans, collects information from surveys, and develops the annual programme report.

About empowering women in Africa, challenges, and motivations

Name, age, and where are you from?

My name is Millicent Sifuna. My origins are in Kenya. At the moment, I live in Nairobi, Kenya.

What do you do for a living?

I recently completed my master’s degree in Medical Entomology. Malaria and arboviruses are two of my main research interests. I’d like to begin my Ph.D. studies as soon as possible. All of this is due to my strong interest in research.

Is there an issue related to the empowerment of women that is particularly important to you?

Yes. Women face obstacles in Africa and around the world when it comes to pursuing a professional career, particularly in research. The path taken is riddled with obstacles of various kinds. One challenge many women face all over the world is the ability to balance motherhood and career.

Most women in Africa feel that they cannot do both effectively. She either has to stay home and take care of the children or hire a house help. House helps can sometimes disappoint and, in such cases, knowing that a crèche is available at work is a great resource. 

I am convinced that women’s empowerment requires access to resources as well as the ability and willingness to mobilize them, and I believe it is possible. In addition, women in Africa receive a less formal education, and their knowledge and coping mechanisms are frequently unrecognized.

What challenges do you face related to your work?

As the team leader at RISE Centre Kenya, I sometimes struggle with dealing with the challenges that come with change. I need to understand how things will change, plan for it, and account for the consequences. I’m always on the lookout for ways to reassure teams when things are uncertain and bring people along for the ride when they’re resistant to change, all while maintaining consistency and clarity.

What motivates you?

Empowering people, especially the marginalized, is what motivates me. I relish the opportunity to reach out to such people while making a difference and interacting with a vast majority. I would love to use my research background in vector-borne diseases, a big problem in Africa, to empower people to live disease-free and healthy lives.

Is there anything the international community can do to assist in the empowerment of women where you live?

Yes. In collaboration with local governments self-help groups, churches, and NGOs, the international community can promote women’s potential through education/training and skill development, thus improving women’s skill set and ability to earn income and achieve economic self-reliance.

Through self-awareness, discovering abilities, and potential, I believe a paradigm shift will occur because there will be more opportunities for women all around that they can harness regardless of their level of education or social-economic status.

Learn more about our programmes

Read more about our programmes in Kenya and other Sub-Saharan African countries.

The story of women from distant Togo villages

A group of women from Togo villages decided to find a way out of poverty by starting a business.

Ten years ago a group of women from distant Togo villages decided to improve living conditions for themselves and their families by starting small businesses. That´s how the programme of providing small loans and education in business skills to women social entrepreneurs in Togo began.

Read about their experience of running a business and what has changed for them from the beginning until today.

What do women produce and sell?

Women in our Togo program produce and sell a variety of products such as maize, beans, cakes, rice, yams and fruits, bags, clothes, shoes, drugs, and local drinks. They are involved in a set of bars, tailoring, and hairdressing.

Do they work alone, or have help from other family members?

Some of them do the job alone, and some of them employ other people as well, like in bars, or tailoring and hairdressing where they teach the skills and employ young girls and orphans.

What motivated these women to start their business, and what motivates them to continue doing it?

Climate changes cause the lack of rain, and that affects conditions for farming. Because of these changes, women had to find alternative ways to support their families. Poverty is another strong driver for starting a business that can bring the necessary resources for living. Simply said – women wanted to earn money to take care of their families.

A woman teacher and girls students in the tailoring school in a Togo village

Do the women have support in running their business?

They have no financial support from the community. Some of them got a loan previously, but the interests were high and impossible to handle. That´s why they turned to Action10 for fair and positive support.

Did their status in the community change thanks to starting a business?

The status these women have in their community changes significantly. They are paying the school fees for their children, and participate in the well-being of their families by providing food and clothes.

Are they more appreciated?

The women involved in the programme are more appreciated since they started their business and, as they testify – joy joined their families!

Learn more about the programme of supporting women entrepreneurs in Togo villages.

How can we beat poverty traps?

Finding a way out can seem like a closed circle when you are stuck in the poverty trap.

We believe that there is a way, a method that can support people to beat poverty traps. Let us explain what we mean.

Let’s begin with a thought experiment. Imagine working in an agriculture field, for which you have to walk about an hour every morning. Now imagine one day you wake up to an idea.

In those long morning walks, you see dozens of other people in the exact same situation. Some must walk even longer. That is dozens of people who would gladly pay a small amount to be taken to work. Why? Because they are paid by the hour, which means that arriving early would generate more earnings that day.

If only you had a van, you could offer transportation to them and earn three times as much as you do now, and even have extra time left each day that you could use to work some more or for leisure… or at least that is what you think. 

What would you do next?

Buying a van seems almost like an impossible dream. How would you save for it? Also, credit is not available in the area. And even if it would, you are not sure if you would be able to pay that amount back. Are you calculating gas and maintenance costs properly? Maybe most people don’t mind walking to work and wouldn’t take your service…

African villager with the black cap, looking at the camera, as if thinking of how to find a solution

You have a great idea, but you lack the saving capacity and some of the knowledge to make it a reality.

This is what is usually understood as being in a poverty trap: there are several obstacles that prevent you from escaping poverty. You have a great idea, but you lack the saving capacity and some of the knowledge to make it a reality.

Now you can go back to being you and we can call our hypothetical person Ben. we have a question for you. How could somebody help Ben escape poverty?

We’ll give you a minute to think about it. 


If your answer was something like validating his business model, confirming that it’s profitable, then lending him the money he needs, and offering training on some of the specific aspects of the business, you are on our team.

That is the approach we take when we want to deal with poverty (albeit, of course, oversimplified, as we rely on our partner on the ground for the training and other aspects of the process). But it is not the only approach.

Meeting between coaches and Kenyan villagers, participants of Action10 program, Kenya.

We rely on our partner on the ground for the training and other aspects of the process.

There is another, the “traditional” approach, which is basically identifying Ben’s family as poor and then giving them some food one day a week with money from donations. It is not that this is “bad”. Both approaches are different, not only in their method of choosing who to help, but also in the impact they generate on Ben, his family, and even his society. Very different actually.

Following the first approach, we focus on ideas (validating is a keyword here) and not only on needs. And we do this because we want to generate a sustainable impact. One that outlasts our presence and actions.

We want Ben and his family not to rely on us (or on anybody, for that matter) to feed themselves and live a more dignified life. We want them to “escape poverty” (going back to our title). Give a man a fish, and you will feed him once. Teach him to fish…. We all know how the saying goes. It’s a simple concept. Applying it to specific cases is what is complicated, and that is one of the reasons why the second approach is much more prevalent than the first one. But we believe that shouldn’t stop us from doing what is best.

What do you think? 

Make a difference in someone´s life

To learn more about real projects, visit Our programmes page, and please consider donating. Every small contribution makes a difference in someone´s life.