Burundi is a small land-locked country in Eastern Africa with a population of 8 million. It is the world's most rural country and ninety percent of the population rely on agriculture and subsistence level farming. Since independence in 1962, Burundi has been plagued by ethnic and political conflict. The country is still recovering from a civil war that devastated civil society structures, contributed to high illiteracy rates and poor health care, exacerbated gender disparity and plunged large numbers of the population into abject poverty. Thousands of people died and others were driven from their homes, leaving women and children in particular vulnerable to gender based violence or abduction.
Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world, ranked 184 out of 188 countries on the UN’s Human Development Index (2015). The life expectancy at birth is just 56 years, and only 5.2% of women have at least a secondary education, compared to 9.2% of men.
At the root of the country's problems are issues such as poverty and low levels of education among women; early marriage and pregnancy; and lack of access to land, credit and training. Some or all of these factors result in many women becoming vulnerable and further trapped in poverty. This is especially true in remote areas where women are often marginalized and face fewer opportunities for training or for credit to support income generating activities.
The Mothers' Union Literacy and Development Program has been successfully training Burundians in literacy and numeracy since 2005. The program reaches vulnerable, low-income communities through a grassroots network of Mother's Union and the Anglican Church of Burundi. This network extends across the country to all major regions and to nearly one thousand communities.
Five Talents provides business skills training as well as savings and credit group formation to the literacy program participants. Members have access to mentorship, basic financial services, and emergency funds. To date, over 40,000 members have joined community savings and loan associations. Eighty percent of these groups are now self-managing.
Anglican Church of Burundi
Mothers’ Union Burundi (Literacy and Development Program)
Mothers’ Union Mary Sumner House
You can make a difference for families and communities across Burundi. When you become a partner of Five Talents you'll empower local leaders and help women to gain literacy skills, manage their assets, take part in household decision-making, join a savings and credit group, establish or expand small businesses, and become equipped to take a lead on development issues within their own communities.