Invitation to join the Jo Cox Memorial Grants panel discussion

An opportunity to dig deeper and ask any questions on objective 1 of this new funding opportunity for women-led civil society

UK Aid Direct is hosting a panel discussion on the Jo Cox Memorial Grant on Tuesday 27 March – 10:00am-12:00 BST. This session, accessible by webinar will focus on theme 1 of the grants: Women’s social, economic and political empowerment through supporting women-led civil society.

This thematic area aims to encourage civil society to take an integrated approach to gender equality and empowerment – to tackle the combined and simultaneous disadvantages girls and women experience.

The discussion will include:

  • What are the key challenges in making a meaningful contribution to strengthening women led civil society?
  • What kinds of opportunities exist and can be improved for networking, training and adding value?
  • What sort of challenges do grant holders face and how can we overcome them?
  • How we can support organisations to overcome the barriers they face in accessing funding?

The discussion will be moderated by Ben Latto, Head of DFID’s Civil Society Team and the panel includes:

  • Theo Sowa – CEO, African Women’s Development Fund
  • Musimbi Kanyoro – President and CEO, Global Fund for Women
  • Dr Narmeen Hamid – Strategic Advisor, AmplifyChange
  • Hala Al Karib – Regional Director, Strategic Initiative for Women in the Horn of Africa
  • Jo Cooke – DFID’s Gender Equality team

The webinar is open to anyone wishing to find out more and ask any questions about this funding opportunity. Click here to register.

We also encourage you to help shape the panel discussion by submitting questions in advance. Please send any questions or suggestions to by Friday 23 March.

Grants of up to £1,000,000 will be available through UK Aid Direct. Full details on eligibility criteria, how to apply for the funds, and guidance materials are available on Applications can be submitted from Wednesday 4 April.

Priti Patel visits MicroLoan Foundation – a UK Aid Direct grant holder

Secretary of State for International Development, Priti Patel, recently visited MicroLoan Foundation giving them the opportunity to discuss how the Department for International Development (DFID) had helped the organisation to expand its reach and support over 6,000 of the poorest women in Southern Malawi.

Priti Patel with MicroLoan Foundation staff

Project aims

The MicroLoan Foundation’s ‘Pathways from Poverty’ project began in April 2013 and ended in March 2016.

Its aim was to provide 6,300 women living in poverty in rural Malawi with loans and business training, to enable them to set up small businesses and pull themselves and their families out of poverty.
In order to do this, MicroLoan Foundation Malawi employed and trained Loan and Training Officers (LTOs) and provided them with motorbikes to reach remote rural areas where many of the most marginalised and poorest people live. The LTOs’ role was vital in identifying women with entrepreneurial potential and delivering tailored business training to provide them with the knowledge and skills to set up and run their own enterprises.

With the DFID funds, it became possible to hire 8 LTOs, as well as a project officer, and deliver the project from the 7 existing branches in Southern Malawi.


  • the new LTOs enabled MicroLoan Foundation to extend its reach, meaning that 1000’s of impoverished rural women now have improved access to financial services, as well as greater monetary and business literacy
  • a total of 6,409 marginalised women were economically empowered through the provision of loans and business training – over 100 more than initially projected
  • the businesses they have set up have transformed the lives of their families
  • the increase in household income has meant that they can now afford to buy food, send their children to school, and buy life-saving medicines

As well as the immediate increase in household income, the impact of the loans and training is long term. MicroLoan Foundation encouraged clients to save in order to build financial security and resilience. Through training and support, all of the women were able to start doing this. New clients were found to be saving 11% of the loan value, exceeding the target 10%.

The project achieved positive changes in the poverty statuses of its beneficiaries and exceeded the target number of household members who benefitted from the increase in living standards.

– DFID Project Closure Report, 2016

The impact of the loans and training has been felt by many more than just the women themselves.

A total of 37,085 people experienced a reduction in poverty as a result of the ‘Pathways from Poverty’ project.

If you want to read more about the  work of MicroLoan Foundation, visit their website here (opens in a new tab)

UK Aid Direct grant holder receives MBE in Queen’s Birthday Honours list

UK Aid Direct grant holder, Abaseen Foundation UK, has been recognised for its outstanding contribution to the community with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS) 2017.

Abaseen Foundation UK’s 3-year project with UK Aid Direct focused on improving maternal health and reducing child mortality through developing health service delivery for a poor and marginalised community in North West Pakistan.

We are very pleased to hear that the excellent work of the Abaseen Foundation UK in Pakistan has been recognised with this award. They have made a real difference to maternal and child health in the communities where they work.

– David Daniels, fund director for UK Aid Direct

For more information, visit Abaseen Foundation UK’s website here