Economic wellbeing: EIFL-PLIP innovation award

Award 1: Meet the winners!


Kawempe Youth Centre (KYC), Uganda  - ICT training and financial literacy education for vulnerable young people.

Agyauli Community Library and Resource Centre, Nepal– information and ICT training for farmers.

Belgrade City Library, Serbia– interactive financial literacy education website for young people, families and pensioners.

Latin America
Public Library No. 56 El Bollenar, Chile – skills sharing and ICT increases women’s production and sales of handicrafts.

Africa winner – Kawempe Youth Centre, Uganda

Computer and financial literacy training

A market in Kampala, Uganda

Home to almost 300,000 people, Kawempe is the most densely populated division of Kampala, Uganda’s capital city. One in five people are unemployed and over 50% live in poverty.

In the heart of the division, Kawempe Youth Centre (KYC), a registered community library, is providing a desperately needed service: computer, business skills and financial literacy training – and is steadily making a difference.

Since its launch in March 2011, the library's service has trained 90 young people to use computers, to start small businesses, to manage their money and to look for jobs and income-earning opportunities online.

Over a quarter of the trainees report having opened bank accounts; several have started small businesses and others have entered a variety of vocational training courses.

The library works in partnership with another NGO, the Private Education Development Network (PEDN). The library mobilizes young people and provides computer skills training; PEDN provides entrepreneurship and financial literacy training.

‘A safe place for youth to meet and learn’

‘KYC has given PEDN the opportunity to reach out to youth, who have been empowered financially. It has also provided a safe place for youth to meet to gain skills and financial education’ - Viola Nalutaaya, Program Manager - Smart Start, Private Education Development Network

ICT + finance skills + passion = success for Babirye’s home-based computer school

Babirye Gorretti – young entrepreneurWhen Babirye Gorretti completed school, she had never used a computer. Then she signed up for the library's computer and business skills training course.

She put her two new skills sets together – added passion and determination – and is now the proud owner of a successful computer training business, which she runs from her home.

‘I realized I could apply my knowledge to do something I am passionate about. After completing training in February 2011, I secured funding to buy four second–hand computers. By the beginning of March, my first clients had enrolled and I was training them!’

Babirye’s home-based  computer school.

Babirye says the library's training is the foundation of her success: ‘I developed a culture of saving, which I did not have before! Having a bank account really helps me to manage the little money I save. I use business skills to maintain good relationships with my clients.’

Babirye charges from USh20,000-35,000 (US$8-15) for a two-week course, and currently earns over Ush220,000 (about US$90-100) a month – a very welcome contribution to the family’s income.

She has plans to expand the business: ‘I plan to rent a bigger space. With more clients, I will make more profit and will be able to buy more computers. Alternately, I will secure space in a secondary school, and rent my service to the school, training pupils for their computer exams.’

KYC’s clothing entrepreneurs – small beginnings, plans to grow

KYC’s young entrepreneurs at Kawanda market in Kampala

Five young KYC graduates have set up a successful second hand clothing business, and for the first time have regular income.

During training, the five realized that they shared an interest in the clothing business, and formed a partnership. Now they sell clothing at markets across Kampala.

‘The vast majority of people in our communities are youth, and youth are always going to dress up for as long as they can afford to!’ said Brian Ginda.

His business partner, John Mulondo explained: ‘We get the clothes in bales at wholesale prices in the city centre. These are imported second-hand and we often find good quality, genuine brands that are in high demand. We sort them according to type, age and size, and then prepare them for display in the markets.’

After all the operational expenses have been paid, and new stock bought, the team shares the profit. In an average month, each member of the team is able to take home around Ush200,000 (about US$80).

‘We are now looking into targeting private clients, and to rent a kiosk so that we can build a more permanent clientele,’ said John.

‘With enough savings, each one of us should be able to start a branch in a different location,’ added Namuli Sylvia.

For further information about this innovative service, contact library  director, Esther Kyazike,, or trainer Timothy Walsh,

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Asia winner – Agyauli Community Library and Resource Centre, Nepal

Equitable access to information

Improving livelihoods -
the farmers’ stories

Ful Kumari Mahatu, vegetable farmer

‘Life is easier now… I am free from loans and interest!’

Ganja Kumari Bhujel, potato farmer

‘I sold potatoes worth US$312. In the past I was not able to produce enough for my family.’

Til Bahadur KC, mushroom farmer

‘We hope the library will continue this service.’
  • For planting cucumber, how much fertilizer should we use?
  • How can we control caterpillar infestation in beans?
  • Where can we get information about off-season vegetable farming?
  • Can you help us find information about organizations that help farmers?

Farmers are keeping the Agyauli Community Library team busy. These are just a handful of the 995 questions sent in to the library’s Practical Answers service in less than a year.

The library is located in Nawalparasi district in western Nepal, where over 80% of people are small-scale farmers, many of them women. Far from urban centres and without access to information, most farmers still use traditional methods, and yields barely cover household needs. Estimates are that over half of the farmers cannot read or write.

To help the farmers improve their livelihoods, Agyauli Community Library has had to come up with some innovative combinations of people and technology.

Farmers, the library, experts and technology – vital links in the information chain

To provide access to information, the library is implementing the MEDICT service (Mobilization for Education and Development through Information and Communication Technology) and Practical Answers service.  

Practical Answers is the core of the library’s information service, providing information that will work in the local context and finding practical answers to farmers’ questions. MEDICT provides resources for hands-on training for farmers and other livelihood training.

Practical Answers on air
Members of the Agyauli library team, in the role of knowledge managers, gather farmers’ questions and concerns, and pass them on to the library’s partners, the non-governmental organizations READ Nepal and Practical Action. The partners help the library find agricultural experts to provide answers.

Questions are sent to Synergy FM 91.6, which broadcasts a lively call-in programme for farmers. In the studio are government and other agricultural experts, who must answer the farmers’ phone calls. 

Practical Answers online
The knowledge managers teach farmers to use computers, and help them research the internet for information about modern farming methods.

They email digital photographs of plants, showing problems like leaf wilt and insect infestations, to experts, who quickly respond with advice. The knowledge managers also make good use of mobile phone text messaging (SMS) to receive farmers’ questions and to send back answers.

Practical Answers on film
The library regularly hosts events, inviting farmers to come and watch educational videos. Agricultural experts attend the sessions to meet the farmers.

In just one year…

  • Vegetable, rice and livestock farmers are reporting increased yields – and now regularly come to the library in their free time to use the internet
  • Knowledge managers collected 995 questions from the local community, successfully answering over half of them
  • Over 75 people attended film and video sessions on agriculture
  • Over 140 people received ICT training
  • Over 2,250 people used the library’s computers to send emails

Mushroom farmers attend training.

For further information about this innovative service, contact Ms Sushmita Lama,, or Hum Bdr Kc,

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Europe winner - Belgrade City Library, Serbia

Novcici – Public library website to promote financial literacy

The right idea at the right time

The service was launched in 2010, in the midst of the global economic crisis. Families were struggling to afford basic needs; teenagers’ dreams of higher education were slipping away; pensioners were battling to survive. Headlines about bank failures and collapses had left people suspicious of financial institutions.

High stress and poor financial literacy means people are more vulnerable to exploitation and are more likely to make poor decisions. Financial literacy gives people the knowledge and skills needed to manage their money wisely. Never before had it been so urgently needed.

However, research found that financial literacy education barely existed in Serbia, although it was common in many other countries – and libraries were providing the training! BCL librarians decided to act. They studied various library financial literacy education models, and borrowed ideas and best practices for a service design that would work in Serbia.

They came up with a service comprising two parts – the Novcici (‘Coins’) website, and a training programme for young people.

The website provides the skills and knowledge people need to manage their money. It looks at the financial needs of different categories of people – students, young adults just starting their careers, families and pensioners – and gives practical financial advice, for example, about budgets, dealing with financial institutions and choosing the right investment products. Online calculators help people achieve short and long-term savings goals.

Librarians use the website in financial literacy training with high school students – young people who must face up to the realities of financial independence in the not too distant future.

The service became extremely popular:

  • In one year (2011-12) over 34,000 people visited the Novcici website. That’s almost 100 people a day.
  • here have been over 200,000 page views – from Serbia and more than 30 other countries.
  • Over 3,500 high school students have attended BCL financial literacy workshop.
  • BCL was the first library in Serbia to provide financial education. Now libraries in Novi Sad, Serbia’s second largest city, and Nis, the third largest city, are also offering financial literacy classes.
  • Belgrade municipality’s Youth Office has asked to use the website in their financial literacy workshops, and several non-governmental organizations are now also using it in community training.

‘Novcici is cool!’

Successful saver - Ms Doroteja Kovacevic‘I never believed I could save any money. Then, I went to the library to attend a workshop, where I got advice about the possibility of saving. This is also where I first saw the Novcici website. Now I visit the website every time I have a dilemma about my finances.

‘I decided not to buy lunch for school, but to bring it from home because it's cheaper and healthier. Using the website, I calculated that it would save me €1 a day – exactly the amount I get from my parents for a snack. Then I calcul ated – that’s € 5 per week, and €20 per month! I decided to be determined and to go for it! After 10 months, I saved €200. My mom was so delighted by my persistence that she gave me €100 more, and the laptop was finally mine!

‘I was so thrilled! Not only about the laptop, but about the feeling that I had done a great job! A few of my friends have started to save money in the same way. And I am now saving for the summer vacation.’

‘Novcici taught us not to be afraid of banks’

Planning for the future - Aleksandar Pantic with his daughter Marina, 8, son Mihajlo, 2, and their mother, Stasha ‘We put our savings in a money box for years, just as our grandparents once did. We did not believe in the attractive advertisements for banks. Then we found the reliable website – Novcici – that didn’t belong to any bank. It showed us how we might increase our savings by depositing them in a bank and earning interest.

‘By following advice on the website, we chose the bank with the most favourable interest rate. We deposited our savings and earned €360 within a year. To this amount, we added a little bit more and bought comfortable furniture.

'Novcici taught us many useful things about money. It taught us not to be afraid of banks, but also to be careful and well-informed before making any steps. Now we deal with our home finances more successfully.’

The service succeeded through good teamwork. The library’s main partners were the USAID-supported Serbia Economic Growth Activity Project (SEGA), who gave funding and expert support for the training programme, and the Serbian Consumer’s Association (APOS) who deepened librarians understanding of community financial literacy needs.

‘Working with libraries has multiple benefits!’

‘Cooperation with the BCL was a special experience for us, since we previously worked primarily with the financial sector, the economic and financial institutions (Ministry of Finance, National Bank of Serbia, Tax Administration of Serbia...). We found that working with libraries has multiple benefits! They have quality human resources (librarians who can easily be trained to pass on knowledge), good infrastructure - primarily referring to computers with free high speed internet access, and what is a special advantage is wide network - there are libraries almost everywhere, in every part of town or country! Another important thing is that libraries as cultural institutions have a good public image. This cooperation has been extremely useful for SEGA, but also for the citizens of Serbia, because with not-so-big investment we got very good results and excellent visibility of the project.  It was a great and fruitful experience.’ - Mr Ivan Mladenovic, senior communications advisor on USAID/ SEGA

Valuable, independent advice for consumers

‘Novcici is providing significant assistance to Serbian consumers, while maintaining independence from commercial interests and the influence of particular financial institutions.' - Mrs Borislava Dejanović, Board member of the Serbian Consumers’ Association, APOS

young carpentry entrepreneurs

Encouraged by training and the Novcici website, these young carpentry students have started selling the products they make in class.  They will save the income and use it for a class excursion.

For further information about Belgrade City Library’s Novcici service contact Ms Jasmina Ninkov, Director of Belgrade City Library, 56 Knez Mihailova, Belgrade, Serbia +381 11 2024000, or email Ms Marjan Marinkovic –

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Latin America winner – Public Library No. 56 El Bollenar, Chile

Moonlight Women’s Workshop

Members of the library’s Moonlight Women’s Workshop have developed a business model that successfully integrates modern computer and internet training with traditional sewing and embroidery skills learnt from their mothers and grandmothers.

The library’s service is increasing the women’s income – and improving the lives of over 60 people, all members of the women’s families. The women say the service is helping them in other ways too…

Mrs Monica Diaz Mrs Paulina Hernandez Mrs Ensa Gonzalez

‘Before, I used to spend CH$12,000 (about US$25) having a poncho made for me. Now I spend half as much money because I make them myself. Without the library, I would struggle. Now I can teach others and bring home extra money. The library has enlarged my soul!’

'In the past, I did not earn anything. Now, through the group, I make CH$2,000-5,000 (about US$4-10) for each job. I use ICT to take orders and earn money. I use the income to buy new thread and cloth – and the profit, I save.'

‘The library has helped me to save money, learn new skills and to find companions. The cost of clothing for my grandson of five years cost me about CH$10,000 (US$20). Now that I make the garments myself, it is half that price!’

Library at the centre of community life

El Bollenar is a small community of about 7,000 people. There are no factories or businesses in the village, and so most workers must travel 15km to the nearest town, Melipilla, or to cities even further away. Or they rely on farmers who employ seasonal workers during harvest time.  Because they must look after the children, mothers especially struggle to go out and earn a living. Any extra income is treasured – especially in winter, when there is no farm work and heating costs are high.

Library director Ms Rosa Valenzuela

‘The work really helps the members with their self-esteem – they no longer have to ask their husbands for so much money. It also contributes to their health. Many women just stayed at home before, and were lonely and depressed. There is now fellowship.’

The tiny library is the main cultural centre in the community, and it is very busy, serving up to 60 people a day. Services include free access to ICT and a variety of educational and cultural activities for children, youth and adults. For example, the library has provided an outdoor cinema, exhibitions of community history and workshops on issues such as persona development, safe use of medicinal herbs and leadershipskills.

Inspired after attending a library computer course in 2010, a group of women approached the library director, Ms Rosa Valenzuela, asking how they could use their new ICT skills to increase their family income.

Ms Valenzuela immediately saw an opportunity: ‘I am always seeking ways of ensuring the library is at the centre of community life, and integrating women into the library’s services is therefore very important,’ she said.

Working with the women, the library created the Moonlight Women’s Workshop (Taller de Mujeres Luz de Luna). The group started small, learning and sharing skills in ribbon embroidery and crochet. Over the past two years, the group has grown to include new sewing and thread embroidery skills.The women meet every Wednesday and Saturday, in the library’s craft room, and now make a variety of products – clothing, gifts and household goods like curtains, mats, doilies and tablecloths – for their own use and to sell.

Integrating ICT into the business model

ICT are fundamental to the group’s success. The library provides free access to computers for all its members, and the Moonlight Women’s Workshop use the computers to do market research, showcase their work online, locate factories, email companies, take orders and get quotes, saving the cost and time of travelling to Melipilla and other urban centres. They also research the internet for new ideas for embroidery designs and clothing patterns.

Winning recognition and getting stronger!

In 2011, the group won an award from the President of Chile’s Social Fund. The prize, of CH$776,880 (about US$1,600) was used to buy sewing machines, one for edging and three general machines, and raw materials to share among the group. Once again, they used the internet – both to enter the competition and to find the best machine prices online.

Visit to view the Moonlight Women’s Workshop online exhibition.

Good companions – improving community economic wellbeing

For further information about this innovative service, contact Ms Rosa Valenzuela,

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