ACT in Burkina Faso – Our Blueprint for Success

by ACT

  • Posted on August 17, 2018

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Since 2000 ACT has been working with our local partner in Burkina Faso to deliver meaningful and transformative programs. Our partners, a charity called Child Hope (D’Abord des Enfant), are focused on improving education for impoverished children and providing business development skills for widows.

Led by Constantin, a teacher and orphan himself, Child Hope has sought to improve access and quality of education for orphans in the country. Burkina Faso has one of the worst adult literacy rates in the world – at just 34.6%, according to the UN. This figure is split unevenly between men and women, with a male adult literacy rate of 44% compared to 26% for women.  However, youth literacy (15-24 years old) is steadily improving, despite the fact that 56% of this youth group has had no formal education and a further 16% did not complete their studies.

As a teacher Constantin felt he could improve the situation and as such began tutoring and supporting disadvantaged children as best he could in his spare time.  But one man can only do so much. When the team at ACT became aware of Constantin’s efforts, they decided to partner with Child Hope to see if, together, they could make a greater impact and…

…It worked! By early 2001 ACT was supporting 6 children, and by the end of the year that number had grown to 20. This number then doubled to 40 in 2003, rising to 70 in 2005, and eventually growing to 150 by 2011. We now work across 14 districts!

In collaboration with Child Hope, ACT helps provide financial aid to orphans and disadvantaged children by paying for school fees and uniforms and offering food aid to families in need.

But we don’t just provide financial assistance. With Constantin’s passion and vision we were able to develop a care and support system with after school clubs, weekend tutoring and homework help. The children did very well, with many achieving pass rates well above the national average. This system was so successful it became the model for ACT or our blueprint if you will.

Our successful teamwork motivated us to think bigger. So we looked at another of Burkina Faso’s struggling groups: widows. Widows are often isolated and marginalised on account of their predicament, so we decided to develop a program that aimed to ease their burdens, build their confidence, and generate a sustainable income for them and their families.

The Village MBA…


First we provided a space for widows to come together and build relationships. The aim of this was so that struggling women could meet similar people with similar problems thereby becoming less isolated and breaking down the social stigma associated with widowhood and poverty.

Next we encouraged the women to assess their personal strengths, identify their interests, and to be aware of/generate business opportunities.

Once suitable ideas had been formulated we began a formal training program otherwise known as the Village MBA, to help the women create a proper business plan and strategy. This business skills training is broken down into the ‘five Ps’; Pricing, Product, Place, Packaging and Promotion. The women taking the Village MBA were also encouraged to link up with others with similar ideas thus creating stronger networks of mutual aid. Once a solid business plan was made, the idea was pitched to our team, assessed, and if successful, given seed funding and helped to grow. The project is evaluated throughout its progression, and constant help and advice is given by our trainers. The Burkinabé women who took part in the scheme took to it ‘like a fish to water’.

One Success Story…

Collette Ilboudou is one of over 300 widows that ACT has supported in Burkina Faso. Collette experienced severe trauma following the loss of her husband. A mother of five children, living in just two rooms and sharing facilities with other neighbours, she was unable to provide for herself and her children. She was unemployed, unable to pay her children’s school fees or even feed them. Things were so bad she attempted to take her life on more than one occasion.

Collette lost all hope until she encountered ACT. ACT supported her three youngest children, making the burden lighter and allowing her time to come up with a plan as to how she could provide for herself and her family. Collette received training in business skills through the Village MBA and the training and funding enabled Collette to buy a loom to make clothes which she then sold. Collette’s business grew to twelve looms and she employed other widows to work for her. Hers is one of many stories of widows whose lives have been transformed with ACT’S support.

“A good tree bears good fruits” – Lailah Gifty Akita, Ghanaian author

One of the most important things about the support ACT provides is that the benefits are not limited to direct recipients. Support has a domino effect. That is why it is so uplifting to see ACT graduates passing on the benefits they have received to the next generation through the Alumni Group. In 2000, less than 0.5% of school leavers went on to higher education or training in Burkina Faso. But through our program we saw 10 students graduate from university in 2017 and many more have graduated from or are studying in vocational colleges. In total, 20% of the children we support have gone on to higher education; a remarkable figure.

Our first university graduate was Jaques Tonde. He was among the first of many children we started supporting in 2001. Following the completion of his studies, Jaques decided to bring together other ACT graduates to form an alumni group. The idea proved popular and an official group was formed in 2017. In 2018 the ACT Alumni Group of Burkina Faso collected 70,000CFA and donated it to ACT. Our graduates are supporting the next generation who in turn will support the next.

ACT in Burkina Faso has been a great success and really has become the model we use to achieve our goals of educating children, empowering widows and enriching communities.

Please support our work by donating here.

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