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Five Talents UK: Women’s empowerment bringing hope

In celebration of their 25th anniversary, James McArdle, Director of Communications & Strategic Development at Five Talents UK, shares the inspirational story of women and men who have built a more secure future for themselves, their families and their communities.

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4 min

Following months and months of drought the rains finally came. The land had been parched and 80% of livestock had been lost. Remote pastoralist communities in rural northern Kenya had experienced a burden on lives and livelihoods that had been on the very brink of what could be carried. And yet still, when I arrived into this context last month [May 2023] with a small Five Talents team, we were welcomed with generosity and heard of hopes for the future.

We were visiting Literacy and Savings groups in Marsabit which are supported by Five Talents, alongside our local partners the Mothers Union and Anglican Church Kenya.  Marsabit Diocese covers an area the size of England and, along with many parts of central and eastern Africa, is facing the acute and combined challenges of climate impact, food shortages, economic insecurity and conflicts.  Against these day-to-day challenges the groups are places where women can come together to learn, have access to a safe place to save their money, as well as opportunity for training and support to set-up and grow small businesses.  We listened as members told us the difference it has made for them to be able to read and write, to realise they can make their own choices and become leaders in their community.

Each visit, each community, each woman and man we met told of the difference a Literacy class or a Savings Group is making in their lives. They are owning and shaping their own future. With support and in time, women and men start small businesses and provide community employment; they send their children to school and build local economic resilience; they foster peace through supporting and inspiring one another, and are empowered to shape a better future for themselves, their families and the wider community. It’s a story from central and eastern Africa that we should be hearing more about, and telling time and again. 


Who is Five Talents?

Five Talents is a small charity with over twenty years' experience working through local partners to provide innovative microfinance education, training and support to communities across sub-Saharan Africa, South America & Asia. Through tailored and regular literacy, numeracy, financial and business skills training, their programmes support and unite communities to learn, earn, save and invest together; building resilience and enabling our members to build small businesses that sustain themselves, their families and their communities.

Five Talents recently published an independent report in partnership with Mothers’ Union on the long term impact of its programme in Burundi. Highlights of the report include:

  • Over 144,000 people (78% women) have learned to read and write and now have a formal literacy qualification (this accounts for 2.9% of the adult literate population in Burundi). 
  • Once literate, participants formed community-owned Savings Groups - which have been shown to be highly sustainable; over 84% of those formed have continued and many replicated organically far beyond the investment of the programme.
  • Almost all members now employ at least one other person, and over a third of female participants and nearly half of male participants have started businesses which now employ 2 or more people - a significant multiplier of impact across the communities.
  • More girls are now attending school. 91% of female and 94% of male participants reported sending dependent children (notably girls) to school in 2022, compared to 62% and 52% in 2006.



Your one-off or regular support will provide Five Talents UK members with the infrastructure and training to start businesses which sustain their families. Donations support Savings Group by providing communities who have been marginalised with access to financial services, plus literacy, numeracy and business skills training. 

Support Five Talents UK



There are many ways to give. As a team of just nine staff, Five Talents UK couldn’t do what they do without the help of their committed volunteers. Up and down the country, they have a network of volunteer advocates raising funds, speaking at events and generally spreading the word about what they do. Find out more about how to become a Five Talents advocate.



  • Please pray for Bishop Qampicha of Marsabit, his team, and the ministry across the Diocese as communities rebuild from the devastation of drought.
  • Pray for literacy and savings groups members across all of Five Talent's programmes in central and eastern Africa.
  • Pray for Five Talents and their partners as they look to expand programmes in existing countries and develop programmes in new countries.



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