Vocational Training and Skills-Building

Since 2008, Bloomberg Philanthropies has worked with the non-profit, Women for Women International, to train women in market skills so they can increase their incomes and support their families, communities and countries. Learn more here: Training and Skills Building

Training Smallholder Farmers in Rural Communities to Develop Businesses and Create Market Access

Since 2013, Bloomberg Philanthropies has supported the Relationship Coffee Institute, a non-profit created in partnership with Sustainable Harvest Coffee Importers, to train women farmers so they become fully engaged, recognized participants in the coffee value chain. Learn more here: Farmer Training

Training Artisans and Establishing Global Standards

In 2014, Bloomberg Philanthropies invested in the non-profit Nest to build the capacity of the organization to reach artisans and create market access for this unrecognized global workforce. Learn more here: Artisans and Homeworkers

Increasing Access to Quality Reading Materials

In 2014, Bloomberg Philanthropies partnered with Library For All and the Imbuto Foundation – founded by the First Lady of Rwanda – to increase access to a wide range of culturally relevant and quality reading materials. Learn more here: Education for All 

Mapping Funding in Africa Across All Issues

In 2014, Bloomberg Philanthropies invested in Equal Footing, a Foundation Center project, which launched a free web portal. The web portal offers easy to use technology that allows users to study previous and current philanthropic efforts in absolute terms to encourage strategic, data-driven and collaborative approaches to future investments. Learn more here: Equal Footing

Creating Economic Opportunities

In 2008, Bloomberg Philanthropies partnered with Women for Women International in Rwanda to create economic opportunities for women and their families through skills-building and vocational training. In 2009, we expanded our investment into the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria and Sudan. Since 2008, more than 195,500 women have been enrolled in Bloomberg-funded programs.

Women receive training on financial literacy, health and wellness, and rights awareness. Each participant receives an individualized program plan that leads to vocational tracks, which range from construction to agriculture.


The Women’s Opportunity Center was built by and for women. To fulfill the core mission of job creation and income generation, women were trained in construction and a method of brick building called “sand-molding.”  A cooperative of 250 women learned the technique and created the 520,000 bricks that were used to construct the center.

The women in the construction and brick building business training program have secured multiple contracts including building a local hospital and school. Since our investment in 2013, the brick cooperative has permanently employed 200 women.


As a match to the Bloomberg grant, the government provided land to develop agribusiness. The women learn agribusiness in vital crops. They learn new business skills so they can transition from subsistence farming to larger-scale farming and other entrepreneurial activities.


The vocational track in artisan crafts has led to women exporting products that have been sold by major U.S. retailers including Macy’s, Anthropologie and at crafts fairs.


  • 195,500 women enrolled in training and education programs, 98% graduated
  • 105,190 children of participants enrolled in school

Want to get involved?
Create change. You can make an immediate difference by sponsoring a woman through WfWI.

Developing Tools to Enable Economic Growth for Individual Workers in the Global Marketplace

Through the support of Bloomberg Philanthropies, Nest has created a global platform for artisan business advancement that allows the organization to replicate and scale its specialized training programs. By leveraging technology and a growing professional, skill-based volunteer program, Nest reaches small family businesses around the world with the tools and training necessary to increase their incomes, and the ability to support their children and families.

At the United Nations, Nest launched the first ever industry-wide Ethical Compliance Standards for production that occurs outside of regulated factories, like homes and small workshops. Nest partnered with Bloomberg Philanthropies and eight retail brands to pilot these standards with 11,000 artisans. These standards protect and train artisans and homeworkers in fashion and design supply chains. This has allowed the organization to scale its reach and engage market forces to contribute to greater economic sustainability for artisans and homeworkers worldwide.

Released in May 2019, Nest’s State of the Handworker Economy report shares new descriptive data on artisan small to medium sized enterprises, home-based workers, and the craft economy which are a significant source of employment for women globally. It is a market that reached $526.5 billion in 2017, and is expected to reach $984.8 billion by 2023.


  • Reached more than 188,277 workers in over 70 countries
  • Artisans increased their incomes over the minimum wage by 108 percent

Increasing Options for Digital Learning in Rwanda

In 2014, Bloomberg Philanthropies partnered with the Imbuto Foundation, which was founded by the First Lady of Rwanda, to support Library For All in developing a national digital library through a mobile device reading platform.

The Library was launched on Rwanda’s National Reading Day, in June 2015.


  • 9,953 readers reached in five countries
  • 944,165 pages have been read since the library was launched in June 2015
  • 783 culturally appropriate electronic reading materials made available for free in the local language, Kinyarwanda, and English

Supporting Collaboration Through Access to Data

 In 2014, Bloomberg Philanthropies joined with the King Baudouin Foundation to support the Foundation Center in creating a free web portal, Equal Footing, which gathers, indexes, analyzes and visualizes data and research development in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The free portal provides a funding landscape, curated research, case studies, and reports that present strategies and approaches to development efforts. These features allow users to study previous and current efforts to inform strategic, data-driven, and collaborative philanthropic investments.


  • Attracted users from 143 countries
  • The average session length on the site is 3 minutes and 31 seconds, above what is considered the standard of 2 to 3 minutes. This indicates that the content on the site is engaging and users are staying on to explore it. The average length in its first two months was 3:04, compared to 3:48 for the same time period in 2016.
  • The average number of pages viewed per session on the site is 2.94, above the industry standard of 2.


Learn More:
Explore Equal Footing

Connecting Women to the Global Coffee Market

In Rwanda, coffee production is one of the fastest growing sectors and fuels the country’s economic development.

Bloomberg Philanthropies partnered with Sustainable Harvest Coffee Importers in 2013 to create the Relationship Coffee Institute, which works with women farmers to cultivate sustainable agriculture techniques that improve the quality and increase the production of coffee.

Through hands-on training, RCI teaches women how to produce specialty-grade coffee. They introduce women to roasters from around the world and help them learn from other farmers across the globe through their Let’s Talk Coffee platform.

In order to expand the domestic market for specialty coffee grown by Rwandan women, the Relationship Coffee Institute created a new coffee brand, Question Coffee, and opened a retail café and a wholesale business. In one year, Question Coffee has sold to 19 wholesale customers, including the Kigali Marriott, the first hotel in the global Marriott chain to source coffee locally. Across Rwanda, Question Coffee’s women-grown specialty coffee can be found at leading cafés, restaurants and hotels, including the Marriott, Radisson and Serena. Question Coffee is also partnering with RwandAir to serve Rwandan specialty coffee on all RwandAir flights, with over two million cups to be offered in the next two years. These partnerships enable domestic and international consumers to support smallholder women farmers and their families in Rwanda.



  • 35,000 women farmers trained on coffee agronomy techniques and business practices
  • Question Coffee café and training center opened and operating in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali
  • Coffee being exported to countries in Europe, Africa and the United States