- When was Batonga founded?
What does Batonga do?
Batonga locates the most vulnerable adolescent girls in Benin and connects them to girl-centered safe spaces led by Beninese women. These safe spaces provide young women and girls with trainings that allow them to gain new skills in financial literacy and build social capital. These new capabilities empower young women and girls in Benin with the knowledge and skills they need to be agents of change in their own lives and communities. Find out more about our current programs!
Where does Batonga operate?
Batonga currently has active programs in the communes of Bohicon and Savalou, Benin. We also partner with the Peace Corps to support girls in secondary schools throughout Benin.
Why does Batonga focus exclusively on Benin?
In addition to being the home of our founder, Angélique Kidjo, Batonga strategically chose to focus our data-driven approach in Benin due to the needs and opportunities present in the country. Find out more about why it is crucial to focus our efforts in Benin through visiting our “Where We Work” page.
Who does Batonga benefit?
Batonga’s mission is to reach the most vulnerable adolescent girls and young women in Benin. Find out more about these vulnerable young women and girls by visiting our “Who we empower” page.
The girls we reach through our SONAFA Girls Clubs benefit directly but there is also a multiplier effect. Assuming that the average household size in Savalou and Bohicon is approximately five individuals, we assume that for each girl enrolled in a Girls Club, the multiplier effect on average will be 1×4, meaning that four family members or community members in close proximity to the girls will be positively influenced by the resources of the Girls Club. The exact multiplier effect depends on the profiles of the vulnerable girls (e.g. if they are orphaned or living in a smaller household, the reach may not be as large as a girl living in a larger household).
Why does Batonga focus exclusively on girls?
Globally, women and girls continue to suffer from gender-based exclusion in countless ways, from child marriage to limited access to education, sexual violence, and workplace discrimination. Read more information here on why Batonga focuses on reaching adolescent girls.
Though we recognize that boys and men certainly have an important role to play in ending gender-based exclusion and discrimination, and we support organizations which do the critical work of educating boys and men on issues of gender inequality, Batonga’s current focus is educating and empowering Benin’s hardest-to-reach young women and girls. Our mission is to ensure that these adolescent girls are equipped with the social capital and financial skills and assets to escape the trap of intergenerational poverty and avoid having to make dangerous survival decisions or use harmful survival strategies.
Though Batonga does not have any explicit program specifically for boys and men, we have found that our mentors’ engagement with girls’ families has led to many fathers and brothers expressing their strong support for our Girls Clubs and even sitting in on occasional lessons to learn from the mentors themselves.
Why are Girls Clubs the principal activity of Batonga's programs?
Empowering young women and girls through “safe spaces,” enables women and girls to feel physically and emotionally safe to express themselves without the fear of judgment or harm. This has been shown to be extremely effective in improving girls’ livelihoods and a decline in child marriage. See, for example, this randomized controlled trial conducted by the Population Council.
How does Batonga determine whether a girl is vulnerable?
When determining whether a girl is vulnerable, we consider:
Past access to education: Has this girl ever gone to school? Has she dropped out before completion? Is she behind one or more grades, based on her age?
Parental support/family stability: Does this girl live with only one or neither of her parents?
Marital status: Has she been married before the age of 18?
Motherhood status: Has she had a child before the age of 18?
Learn more about what Batonga defines as “vulnerability” and why it is central to our program design here, “What is Vulnerability?”
Learn more about how we locate and recruit girls for our programs here, “Learning about our Communities”
For more information, see “Who we Empower”
How many girls has Batonga supported?
Since 2006, we have provided mentorship, scholarships, holistic support and/or in-kind donations to over 100,000 girls, their families and their community members.
What’s unique about Batonga?
Intentional Design/Data-driven Approach: Over the past decade, a great deal of aid has been designated towards girls. But there’s a problem: the girls with the highest need are often the most invisible. Whether they are orphans, pregnant teenagers or child-brides, these girls fall off the grid and remain uncounted and unserved. That’s why Batonga has adopted an intentional, information-driven approach, using the Population Council’s Girl Roster™ mobile technology to map where girls are and understand what they need. Only after understanding this population can the international community truly serve them and empower them to be agents of change in their communities and in their own lives.
Focus on Vulnerable Girls: Leveraging data helps Batonga “go beyond the paved road” and reach populations that generally do not receive resources, focusing in on girls who are usually unseen by the international community. And because of the unique situation of these girls—the fact that they often don’t have parents, have already been out of school for an extended period and perhaps have children of their own—school often isn’t an option for them and/or doesn’t provide them with the knowledge or skills they need to support themselves. Focusing on these off-track girls presents a unique challenge and an exciting opportunity to meet girls where they are and empower them to set and achieve goals for themselves.
Serving as a Laboratory and Convener: Batonga runs its own data-driven programs while at the same time convening major players in the space to share learnings and best practices and foster partnership to better serve adolescent girls. Read more about our adolescent girls learning circle here.
- What is Girl Roster™?
Does Batonga support scholarships?
In 2015 and 2016, Batonga began to shift away from the scholarship model and focus on innovative education programs geared toward the most excluded young women and girls. Batonga still supports some scholarships through our partnership with the Peace Corps but we now focus primarily on providing girls with safe spaces and mentors, equipping them with life and financial literacy skills, and helping them start small businesses. Read more about our story!
What are your plans for future growth and development?
Our goals for the future are to:
Improve: Increase educational and economic opportunity and social, emotional and mental well-being for off-track adolescent girls in underserved regions of Benin through intentional, data-driven and environmentally friendly programming. Enhance the health and livelihoods of Batonga’s communities by enabling the Girls Clubs to generate income through small businesses (this will be accomplished, in part, by the incorporation renewable energy solutions).
Innovate: Serve as a laboratory and thought leader for programs, tools and technologies to transform the lives of off-track adolescent girls in Benin.
Influence: Advocate for intentional program design and data-driven solutions for off-track adolescent girls in order to ensure that Batonga and other actors in this field understand the populations we serve and design and implement more effective and impactful programs for them.
What new programs are you working on?
In late 2018 and early 2019, Batonga is more than doubling in size and launching nearly 100 new clubs for 2,000 girls ages 10 to 15.
Also, Inspired by the work of the Population Council with girls’ groups in Sierra Leone, Batonga is currently piloting a new solar technology integration program which combines our existing Girls Clubs’ entrepreneurship training with innovative green technology. Phone charging is a high demand business in Benin, especially in small villages off the electrical grid. However, in most communities, this niche is filled by men who generate power through diesel generators. Many Batonga Girls Clubs have recently developed business plans and are using solar-powered cell phone chargers to generate revenue. In doing so, they are simultaneously learning valuable entrepreneurial skills while closing Africa’s power gap.
Check out our “What’s New” Tab and join our email list for more updates from Batonga!
What does SONAFA stand for?
Batonga young women and girls chose this as the name of their Girls Clubs in Benin. It means “the future will be better and more peaceful” in Fon, the local language in the communities where Batonga works.
This is truly a testament to the impact and positive change Batonga’s programs are creating in girls’ lives. The future is bright and we can’t wait to see what positive change will be led by these inspiring young women and girls!
To learn more about how Batonga defines vulnerability and why we focus on young women and girls, click here