At Shalupe Foundation, we believe that women are the glue that holds families and communities together. By empowering women we are able to improve the livelihoods not just of our direct constituents, but also of society at large. Our sustainable empowerment programs are built to address the economic and psychosocial needs of Congolese girls and women – in particular, of those trapped in poverty or scarred by the war.
Mashala Women's Empowerment Program
The Mashala Program is an economic empowerment program based in a region of the DRC with the same name. In the Mashala region, women labor in plantations for long hours in order to feed their families. Our program allows these women to unlock their full potential and elevate their lives to something beyond the harsh realities of subsistence farming.
The Mashala Program is an integrated rural development approach that assembles clusters of villages where women are mobilized to create and run their own businesses. Since 2000, we made use of micro-grants that serve as the capital women need to start their businesses. The micro-grant program is a proven, replicable, low-cost methodology for empowering the women of rural communities to become self-reliant; we chose to issue grants rather than loans so women do not find themselves struggling to repay their debts. Rather, we ask our women to give grants of their own to women less fortunate than them – and many do.
While we no longer provide micro-grants to our constituents, we now work with the community as a trusted, low-interest "bank" that helps women invest their weekly earnings to raise their own start-up money for future business ventures. This initiative, created at the requests of the women we serve, helps empower our entrepreneurs and business owners to be entirely self-sufficient and independent.
La Congolaise en Ligne
'A Step Toward A Successful Enterprise"
Although “outdated” and inexpensive in the United States, in the DRC chalk is an essential but expensive teaching tool. Many schools struggle to buy the chalk needed for even the most basic lessons, and students are often expected to bring their own chalk to class. Those who cannot are unable to engage active, participatory learning, and are often excluded from schooling altogether.
Realizing society’s urgent need for affordable chalk, in 2010 some of Shalupe’s women proposed a new program to teach chalk-making to young girls. Thanks to their entrepreneurial spirit, “La Congolaise en Ligne” was born. Run entirely by women, the program teaches girls to make and sell chalk to schools while enrolling them in a series of workshops focusing on education and community building. Even as the girls gain valuable chalk-making and business skills, local schools benefit from affordable chalk that can be used to improve the learning experience for all students. Furthermore, the girls are able to use the money they earn to support their families and help pay for their own school fees. La Congolaise en Ligne is an example of the creative, locally grown social entrepreneurship that Shalupe works to foster.
The objectives of La Congolaise En Ligne are to:
Ensure immediate and long-term safety
By supplying girls with basic needs, such as housing, food, toiletries, and income
By giving girls access to workshops that foster female empowerment
Alleviate immediate and long-term poverty
By giving girls access to a paid apprenticeship and, ultimately, a transferable skill set and experience in a working environment
By giving school children access to education
Click on picture to visit our gallery to learn more about how our chalkmaking enterprise works!
Click on picture to visit our gallery for more images and information about our constituents' successful businesses!
In 2014, Shalupe opened the door to 30 girls as part of our accelerated leadership institute. These girls are anywhere from 12 to 18 years of age, and fall within the 5th to 7th grade range in school. Because poverty and orphanhood have prevented many of these girls from continuing their schooling, the institute will create the possibility for its participants to learn important skills - such as French literacy - through an after-school program at a local school. This unprecedented opportunity will give the girls the skills they need to pass the entrance exams into normal schools, where Shalupe Foundation will pay their tuition. While enrolled in the institute, the girls will be housed and fed, giving them a safe and productive environment in which to learn.'