By Alice Korngold
Girls in Ethiopia face child marriage, trafficking, child labor, and the lack of access to education. Studio Samuel Foundation (SSF), a nonprofit that has received funding from Google, the GO Campaign, and The White Feather Foundation (Julian Lennon), creates pathways and empowers at-risk girls to become self-reliant. SSF’s two-year program, Training for Tomorrow, provides healthcare, life skills training, and computer programming training to prepare girls for gainful employment and careers. This is transformational, since women are key drivers of economic growth.
“Ethiopia is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Girls from Ethiopia’s impoverished rural areas are exploited in domestic servitude and prostitution within the country… Addis Ababa’s central market is the site of numerous brothels, where girls as young as 8 years old are exploited in prostitution. Ethiopian girls are exploited in domestic servitude and prostitution in neighboring African countries—particularly Sudan—and the Middle East.” U.S. Department of State
SSF provides a solution, improving lives and advancing the SDGs
The curriculum for SSF’s Training for Tomorrow is based on the 10 Core Life Skills as noted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF. At the core of SSF’s program is counseling—group and individual—to address past trauma. The results are significant: 94 percent of participating girls saw academic and behavioral improvements within six months.
In addition to training girls for 21st century jobs in coding, SSF’s computer lab also brings a plethora of information previously not accessible to the students. From prepping for their national exams to researching how to increase production in their family’s crops, vital information helps bridge the digital divide in Africa.
“SSF’s100th girl just enrolled in our now established and thriving life-skills program, Training for Tomorrow,” says founder and executive director Tamara Horton. “Two-hundred more girls are eager to participate. We are achieving our mission to create pathways and empower at-risk girls to become self-reliant. And we are helping to advance seven of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): No Poverty (1), Good Health (3), Quality Education (4), Gender Equality (5), Good Jobs and Economic Growth (8), Reduced Inequalities (10), and Partnerships for the Goals (17).”
Two of SSF’s graduates, who would normally have left school to support their families, have received four-year college scholarships as a result of the personal development and training provided by SSF. “I’ve always felt alone because, since I was a little girl, I had no family after my parents died from AIDS,” said one of the girls who will attend college. “Studio Samuel became my family and taught me what I need to grow and live on my own. I was very shy before. I feel stronger now because I know I am important.” The second girl also lost both parents to AIDS at a young age and now lives with her older sister in extreme poverty, averaging less than $2/day.
“For me, the time is now to get involved on a deeper level and support a mission aligned with lifting girls and women,” says Lynn Hazan, executive vice president, GM, and CFO of EPIC Records. “I’ve seen the impact in girls’ lives through Studio Samuel’s work and now as chair, I’m excited to help lead this organization even further.” Under the leadership of a powerful board of directors and Tamara Horton, SSF is well positioned to expand its reach in Ethiopia and additional countries through NGO and corporate partnerships.
Girls who succeed improve their families and their communities
The United Nations says to eradicate extreme poverty and build vibrant economies, women must gain access to education, jobs, and leadership opportunities. And according to the World Bank: “The profitability of education, according to estimates of private rate of return, is indisputable, universal, and global.” Girls in Training for Tomorrow gain the skills and confidence to improve their lives and the lives of their families. This is transformational, since women are key drivers of economic growth.
About the author:
Alice Korngold is co-editor of Giving Thoughts and the author of A Better World, Inc.: How Companies Profit by Solving Global Problems…Where Governments Cannot (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014) and Leveraging Good Will: Strengthening Nonprofits by Engaging Businesses (Jossey Bass, A Wiley Imprint, 2005). For over 20 years, she has been training and placing business executives on NGO/nonprofit boards and consulting to corporations, foundations, and NGOs/nonprofits on board governance, CSR, and sustainability.