New Lessons in a New Country: How Literacy and Financial Education are Changing South Sudan

During a literacy training in South Sudan

During a literacy training in South Sudan

Imagine not being able to read road signs, text messages, or the label on your child's prescription medicine.

This is the reality for the vast majority of women in South Sudan. These women are not blind. They are among the 84% of adult females in the country who have never learned to read and write(1).

In 2010, Five Talents and its local partners began teaching women from five states and six regions in South Sudan and Sudan how to read, write, and manage small businesses. We've focused on remote, low-income areas where women have traditionally lacked access to schooling and formal financial services. To date, over 16,000 women from disadvantaged communities have graduated with skills in: literacy, numeracy, financial management and business skills. In addition, these women now have access to basic financial services through member managed savings groups. 

Women learn to read and write in their native languages as the first step in business development.

Women learn to read and write in their native languages as the first step in business development.

A typical group saves $270 per group and $13 per person. The groups deposit their savings on a weekly basis and repayment is made monthly with loan disbursement, rotation, and interest rate. Members are also encouraged to participate in community banks and there are currently two banks that have been established in Lietnhom and Kuajok.

More than 13,000 new businesses have been established as a result of this program and household income for participants has increased by 73%. Click here to watch a short video on literacy and financial inclusion in South Sudan.

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 (1) World Development Indicators, The World Bank, 2015.