Friday, April 11, 2008

Entrepreneurship rescues girls education in Africa

A very inspiring story.

To keep their "10,000 Girls" education program going, the girls asked Vaughn to teach them to bake. They began selling cookies and juice and were able to buy books and supplies.

Soon after, they got their older sisters, aunts and cousins -- who had already failed out of the school system -- involved in baking and selling goods. The entrepreneurial element of the program was born.

"They were supporting their cause," says Vaughn. "It was something remarkable."

Today, in addition to a pastry shop and catering business, "10,000 Girls" runs a sewing workshop and the girls export their handmade dolls and household linens overseas.

Half of the funds from these projects go back to the girls; the remainder supports the education program, no longer in Vaughn's house.

More than 1,500 girls are involved in Vaughn's program in six locations; about 1,000 are waiting to join.

"We have girls who were told they'd never get through high school who are at university now," beams Vaughn. "We hope that if we get 10,000 girls out there, 1,000 girls will come back to Kaolack and work. It would revolutionize the whole region.

"Here I am, retired, and this is the best job I have ever had in my life."