You may remember we told you about the incredible work being done by Evolvin’ Women, founded by Assia Riccio. Evolvin’ Women is a social enterprise that helps organisations achieve a greater level of diversity and inclusion through socially responsible initiatives. They create and manage programmes in developing countries that enable these organisations to offer skill development placements to unemployed women from rural areas and less privileged economic backgrounds. Circumstances have prohibited or limited their access to professional development and full-time job opportunities and this is where Evolvin’ Women comes in.
Making change happen
Training is fundamental to the work of Evolvin’ Women, but how does it work? “During their placement, our evolvin’ women attend ‘Sit at the Table’ workshops where they have the opportunity to share the challenges they are facing regarding a specific development area and learn skills to overcome them,” Assia explained.
To help Evolvin’ Women achieve this, over the years they have built a community of Change-makers, a group of coaches and industry professionals who wish to support participants who come together every month to share personal experiences on how they have overcome similar challenges in their lives.
“The day starts with a one and half hour open discussion where each participant has the opportunity to take a seat at the table, be heard and make a difference in her life by receiving support from the Change-makers,” Assia said. “Following this session, together with our education partners we deliver a three-four hour workshop that equip participants with skills and knowledge to further develop their specific development area.”
It is critical to create a safe environment for an open discussion where participants receive face-to-face career development and soft skills training. Learning from one another and having the opportunity to network with the community of Change-makers is an opportunity they might not otherwise have.
Another important part of the training takes place online. Online training enables Evolvin’ Women to reach women in rural areas, increase the number of participants they can enrol to generate a greater impact and provides participants the flexibility to learn at their own pace. The organisation partnered with Accenture and Cudoo to make sure they deliver both employability skills training and competency-based development.
“Participants access online training throughout the duration of the programme,” Assia continued. “They complete over 10 online courses to prepare for interviews with our hotel partners and can continue their professional development by accessing another 100+ courses during their placement.”
Assia said competency training is critical during their selection process as it enables the team to select candidates based on eight competencies required to succeed on the programme and bring value to hotel partners.
Saviour joined the Evolvin’ Women programme and completed 45 hours of face to face training and over 40 hours of online education through Accenture and Cudoo online platforms.
“Saviour is determined to train as a chef. Her aim is to cross train in pastry to learn cake decoration and further expand her skill set,” Assia said. “Bakery and cold kitchen are two other development areas Saviour is interested in. This experience will help Saviour gain knowledge and develop skills that will help her open a restaurant or pastry shop. This is a business she wants to set up to train other women in her community who are unemployed and passionate about hospitality.”
Assia says that Evolvin’ Women are very fortunate to partner with hotels such as DoubleTree by Hilton who are supportive of participants’ development and encourage cross training programmes. “Apart from the opportunity within the hotel, we are also helping Saviour connect with cake decorating businesses and pastry chefs who can mentor her throughout the programme,” Assia said.
Mentoring plays a crucial part in Evolvin’ Women’s programmes. Mentors are hospitality professionals and coaches who commit to two hours a month. “Mentoring is an element of the programme we take seriously as it accelerates our participants development and provides much needed support,” explained Assia. “Saviour is benefiting from having guidance and an experienced coach who brings new ideas and new perspectives. She helped her settle in Dubai when she first arrived.”
During mentoring sessions, they discuss and review goals, brainstorm on new strategies and action plans. “Our mentors are genuinely interested in learning about what participants wish to achieve at the end of the programme and work together to make sure that goals are achieved and mentees are accountable,” said Assia.
Saviour began the programme in September 2018 and Assia is looking forward to seeing her achieve her goals and return to a job in Ghana with a new outlook on life. “We will continue to work together and guide Saviour throughout the programme in view to taking the knowledge, skills and experience gained back to her community,” she said. “We also support our participants after the programme with more mentoring and coaching. We have no doubts that Saviour will continue to gain in confidence and expand her horizons beyond her comfort zone.”
We’ll be bringing you more news about Evolvin’ Women throughout 2019. To discover more about their work and programmes, visit www.evolvinwomen.com