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  • LocationKenya
  • SectorGender
  • Type of investmentGrant
  • Project stagePilot

Buildher trains women from Nairobi’s informal settlements through a 12-month programme, which includes workshop-based training and paid employment placements. In addition to accredited construction skills and technical skills in areas like carpentry and joinery, woodwork, painting and decorating, and tools/equipment maintenance, women on the programme are offered life skills such as financial literacy, mental health coaching, leadership, and communication.

Buildher also works with partner firms in the construction sector to make their workplaces more gender inclusive, including through changing workplace facilities and enacting sexual harassment policies.



Investment Overview

The development problem

In Sub-Saharan Africa, the ratio of female-to-male labour force participation rates is higher than in any other region. However, the quality of employment and opportunities for better jobs continue to be unequally distributed between men and women. In most developing countries, when women work, they tend to earn less (known as the gender-wage gap), work in less productive jobs, and are overrepresented in unpaid family work and other forms of vulnerable work. Construction is among the archetypal male dominated industries: women constitute only 9.5% of the global construction workforce. The Kenya Economic Survey tells us that the construction sector was the sixth largest sector for waged employment in 2019, contributing 7.5% of all waged jobs in the economy and creating 25,000 waged jobs in the preceding five years. Only 17% of these waged employed were female in, and women occupied a far smaller percentage of skilled roles. This implies that there are systematic barriers to women breaking into a sector which grew by a rate of 6.4% in 2019, contributes 5.6% to GDP and offers competitive wages with a premium on skills.

The innovation

Buildher was founded in 2018 and is based in Nairobi. As a social enterprise, Buildher seeks to advance gender inclusivity in the construction sector in Kenya, and to improve the livelihoods of low-income women through its innovative work placement programme and promotion of decent work for women. Buildher works directly with construction companies to make their workplaces more inclusive, safer and more fulfilling for women. Through its employer partnership and engagement work, Buildher aims to challenge male attitudes in the sector while advocating for sector-wide reforms to make construction a more viable option for women to pursue rewarding careers.

GIF's investment

Buildher will use a $230,000 grant from GIF's Innovating for Gender Equality Fund to:

•Expand and further validate its model, supporting a further 240 women into skilled employment in the construction sector.

•Strengthen its monitoring evaluation function to better assess costs and benefits and ensure that it can use emergent learning to continuously improve its work.

•Better understand the viability of scaling strategies, including how to recover more costs from earned revenue, and how to support the National Construction Authority to mainstream gender equality across the construction sector.

Why we invested

  • Few innovations focus on markets from which women have traditionally been excluded, so this investment offers the opportunity to learn more about the potential of models of this kind to challenge norms and expand opportunities for women.
  • Buildher is a female-founder led organisation with a strong local team, which is ambitious and holistic in its approach with an appetite to learn and innovate.
  • GIF’s expertise can provide support in growth areas for Buildher, offering high additionality in areas of improving monitoring and evaluation, developing social enterprise revenue streams, and working to scale through public sector partners.
  • Strong strategic fit under GIF’s Innovating for Gender Equality Fund given the focus on transformative outcomes for women and challenging entrenched gender norms.
  • Supports UN Sustainable Development Goals 4 (Education), 5 (Gender Equality), 8 (Work and Economic Growth) and 10 (Reduced Inequalities).

Theory of Change

There are three main channels through which Buildher will achieve its outcomes. Firstly, training and skilling of women will increase the probability of earning higher incomes, whether through skilled employment in the construction sector, or in other dignified roles. Training can also to contribute to self-efficacy and agency gains, as the acquisition of new skills and status within the community contributes to an improved sense of self, while earned income can lead to more household bargaining power. Secondly, by partnering with firms Buildher can support the adoption of policies and practices which further improve outcomes for women by making their workplaces more accommodating, safe and inclusive. Training of male peers can lead to changes attitudes and behaviours in the workplace and at home. Lastly, by working with other stakeholders, most notably the National Construction Authority, the sector regulator, Buildher can drive changes of norms and standards in the industry which increases the probability that firms will hire and retain more women in the future, meaning the sector becomes a more accessible to women and expands the choices available for women entering the labour market.

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