Girls First Finance launches mentorship/loan app for girls sexually exploited by ‘godfathers’

Girls First Finance launches mentorship/loan app for girls sexually exploited by ‘godfathers’

By Korir Isaac / Posted on Jun 30, 2022 | 8:25

KEY POINTS

Research indicates that poverty and lack of financial support for the educational needs of Kenyan girls (and increasingly boys) allows older adults to sexually exploit them in exchange for money. This involves the culture of “sponsors” that has developed in Kenya, exacerbated by social networks.

KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER

“Dads and godparents have become a culturally accepted norm around the world. But this practice amounts to child abuse causing profound harm to girls and boys who have no alternative to fund their education. “

On July 1, Girls First Finance (GFF) will launch a new app that offers mentorship, advice, budget tracking and affordable student loans that target girls at risk of sexual exploitation by godparents in Kenya.

Formed to support girls’ education and professional development, Girls First Finance privately launched the app for Android on July 24, 2022 to students at Center de formation professionnelle Sainte-Thérèse. However, the first student loan pilot will start in Kenya in October 2022.

Poverty and access to education are significant challenges for African youth, especially young girls. Students are particularly excluded from higher education due to the lack of student loan financing options outside of the government.

“At HELB, we have over 40,000 students looking for emergency funds to supplement their HELB loans at any time. Not all student loan products can match government interest rates. Nevertheless, we should encourage private lenders who can offer sustainable loans at scale, as more and more students take out predatory mobile loans to fill their funding gaps. Charles Ringera, CEO of HELB and member of the GFF Advisory Board.

Research indicates that this lack of options for Kenyan girls (and increasingly for boys) allows older adults to sexually exploit them in return for financial support. This involves the culture of “sponsors” that has developed in Kenya, exacerbated by social media.

Recent studies suggest that as many as 25-50% of girls are enveloped in the godfather culture at some point in their schooling.

A 2019 Action Aid study indicated that professors or higher education staff negatively exploit almost 60% of students. Likewise, the importance of sexual exploitation to school grades increasingly affects those lucky enough to attend. These access and exploitation issues are what GFF seeks to address through its mobile app launched this week.

“The exploitation of girls and women is the biggest pandemic in human history. It transcends class, race and country. Almost all women and girls have at least one history of gender-based violence. But no young person should ever be forced to knowingly compromise their dignity just to achieve their educational dreams,” says Andrea Pizziconi, Founder of Girls First Finance.

“Dads and sponsors have become a culturally accepted norm around the world. But this practice amounts to child abuse causing deep harm to girls and boys who have no alternatives to fund their education,” she added.

GFF first launched the app for private distribution to girls at St. Therese Vocational Center in Karen. Thanks to the generosity of a private foundation, GFF hoped to first build a cohort of test users before making the application available to the public on July 1.

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While Sainte-Thérèse students will have the first chance to use the app, the pilot project will soon expand to involve approximately 3,000 girls from across the country. And after the official launch, the general public can also register for access.

New features of the app will be rolling out over the coming weeks and months, with the first features offering budget planning tools, daily news feeds and advice from prominent women around the world, as well as matchmaking connecting users to mentors and advisors.

This latest feature is supported by a pilot partnership with the Professional Counselors Association of Kenya. KAPC’s trained counselors will offer deeply discounted therapy sessions to app users, recognizing how many traumatized and exploited girls now need support to heal.

KAPC Director Elias Gikundi decided to partner with Girls First Finance recognizing that access to mental health needs to be democratized urgently to serve our most vulnerable young people.

The public can support GFF users by signing up to become a mentor or certified life coach, joining a four-person “crew” to support each young user’s financial health, or posting gigs and jobs. targeting young women.

Mentor training is readily available online for those who register with the GFF. The Kenyan GFF team has already recruited pilot mentors through efforts led by GFF Program Manager Mercy Kalung’e.

Through this app, Girls First Finance will begin to connect Kenya’s most vulnerable girls to the world. It will soon prove that regardless of what happened to a girl in the past, she can regain her full mental health, while showing that vulnerable unbanked girls with the right support are probably the most responsible borrowers in the sector. banking. has been neglected for too long.

About Korir Isaac

A creative, tenacious and passionate journalist with impeccable ethics and a flair for anticipated and spontaneous news. He might not say it, but he sure can make quite a fuss.

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