The Peer Support Group Strengthening project has been implemented by Hand in Hand Southern Africa under funding from UN Women in partnership with the UNDP New World initiative. The project which was designed to build key life skills and business skills of Peer Support Group members was implemented between March and December 2015 in Gauteng and Mpumalanga. The project was designed to support 42 Peer support groups with potential for growth identified from a pool of PSGs formed under the Empowerment of Women entrepreneurs project (EWEP) implemented under a partnership between UN Women and the 5by20 programme.
The project was motivated by the problem of untargeted, uncoordinated support and poor mentorship provided to women cooperatives and the need implement targeted interventions and document the same. The focus has thus been on selecting peer support groups and providing them with capacity development designed to strengthen their capacity to plan and work together towards a common goal. Interventions were groups specific in order to address localised challenges. Group cohesion and a clear strategic direction were expected to assist the groups to grow and access additional support from other stakeholders thereby enhancing their sustainability. The programme team identified a number of challenges facing the groups and key among them were group conflicts, lack of market, lack of financial management and team spirit. A number of modular based trainings were conducted to capacitate the group members coupled with regular mentoring and coaching sessions to ensure that all acquired skills are implemented.
A number of stakeholders were called on board to assist the groups with group based requirements and needs for now and even after the project has ended. As of the end of the project, behavioural change continues to be noticed from different groups indicating that the project intervention has had positive results.