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In February 2021, we launched Making Work Work — for Women Returners with our partners, The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and Lynn Houmdi. The programme is funded by the Scottish Government and is a pilot of our approach of helping people who face barriers to finding or creating meaningful work which works with the other commitments and enjoyment of life. Lynn Houmdi, who is also the Project Manager, hosted panel of incredibly inspiring women at the launch on 8 February 2021, all of whom ably evidenced that there is no one right path and that it is possible to work…


On International Migrants Day 2020 we recognise the importance and contributions of migrants and the value different migrant groups (inc. of refugees, Internally Displaced Peoples and stateless) can bring to host countries, as well as their home communities.

2020 has certainly been a year for the books. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a global slowdown in economic growth, a spike in global unemployment levels (especially among young people) and the prospect of returning to poverty levels not seen since the 1990s.

With those living on the margins and those already living in precarity being disproportionately affected by the pandemic, the…


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Kwenu juice bar, one of the businesses taking part in Challenges’ Youth to Work programme.

Uganda is facing a major challenge in youth unemployment. Official figures report that 80% of its population are aged below 35 years old, yet the country’s recent economic growth has failed to translate into new employment opportunities for young people. A recent study found that Ugandan young people face widespread issues of unemployment and underemployment, with educated youths suffering higher unemployment levels in particular. Since 2013, the government has boosted youth employability schemes, focusing on enterprise development, job creation and business skills training. …


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Challenges’ flagship Rwandan Coffee Project has reached its halfway point. To mark this major milestone and to coincide with Fairtrade Fortnight, Challenges has released a new film about the project and published a report detailing the activity that has gone on during the past two and a half months.

In less than three years, Challenges and its project partners have trained more 800 co-op members and farmers while the eight participating co-operatives have all either increased their exports or started exporting. …


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At The Challenges Group, we’re always interested to hear about disruptive approaches to agriculture. With a series of ongoing projects supporting farmers and smallholders, it’s encouraging to see increased calls for innovative solutions that address sanitation and waste as well as the economic struggle facing many farmers.

Here, authors Federico Davila, Alice Mutiti Mweetwa, Dana Cordell, Frank Mnthambala, Gudina Terefe Tucho and Ruben Sakrabani look at how connecting two major sustainable development issues can allow countries to develop a circular economy.

AFRICAN agriculture is fundamental to supporting rural livelihoods and bolstering economic growth, and can benefit from technology and advances…


2019 has been a superb year for Challenges! For the past 12 months our management consultants and business trainers in Zambia, Uganda, Rwanda, Malawi, Ghana, Ethiopia and the UK have been involved an array of exciting projects, working with small businesses, development agencies, co-ops, entrepreneurs and young professionals.

And as 2019 draws to a close, we’re deeply excited about the year ahead as we continue to deliver enterprising solutions to global challenges. As for the past year, here’s a brief selection of highlights from across The Challenges Group!

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Unveiling of our analysis of Ugandan solar sector.

In Uganda, we partnered with USEA to map the country’s solar sector


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Soil health maps can help smallholder farmers make better decisions on improving their yields. Rod Waddington/Flickr

Across The Challenges Group, we’re working on a series of agriculture-focused projects, supporting farmers to run better businesses. One of the key considerations is maintaining a healthy soil and the different ways this can be achieved sustainably. Here, Ermias Betemariam, a land health scientist with the World Agroforestry Centre, explains how Ethiopian researchers are putting together maps that show where there are soil fertility issues and whether nutrients are missing.

HEALTHY soils are vital to human survival. They play a pivotal role in feeding global populations — after all, food is grown in soil. Healthy soils grow more crops and…


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Dr Stephanie Terreni Brown with Clean Water Wave’s CAFE water filter system.

“We wanted to take our first aid training programme to Zambia,” says Sam Abrahams, CEO of First Aid Africa, whose organisation provides free first aid training to at-risk communities across the continent. “But we lacked the logistical support we had in other African countries. We didn’t have offices, trainers on the ground, or access to rural communities.” Thanks to the Access Africa Programme (AAP), he explains, “we went from having zero presence in Zambia to recruiting a team and operating a functioning office in a matter of weeks.”

Delivered by Challenges in Edinburgh, Scotland, and through our offices in Ethiopia…


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From left: Leah Dejenu, Bethlehem Berhane, Aileen Campbell, Kasonde Kashulwe and Eden Amdebirhan.

While in Addis Ababa for the Social Enterprise World Forum, the Challenges team took the opportunity to visit three of the social enterprises taking part in our RISE project. Following on from our successful showcase of The Challenges Group the day before, we also invited Aileen Campbell, the Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government, to accompany us on our tour of social enterprises in the Ethiopian capital.

The Readying Investable Social Enterprises (RISE) project aims to enable 20 social enterprises to become investment ready, while also providing 20 young professionals with the opportunity to participate in a business…


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Panel (L-R): Blayne Tesfaye, Danait Tilahun, Vivian Achan, Kevine Kagirimpundu and Kasonde Kashulwe.

One of the highlights of the Social Enterprise World Forum in Addis Ababa last month was the opportunity for Challenges to host a panel discussion on young social entrepreneurs. As well as the forum’s first panel of the three-day event, it was also the SEWF’s ONLY all-female panel. It was also possibly the youngest.

Taking part in the main hall of the United Nations Conference Centre, the session was chaired by Challenges’ Ethiopian manager, Kasonde Kashulwe, and focused upon young people in African countries and how they engage with social enterprise.

Joining Kasonde on the panel were Vivian Achan from…

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