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As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we meet Elesia, one of the many women Barclays is helping to empower.

“I’m putting more money in my pocket while saving people’s lives,” says Elesia, one of the new Live Well agents in the Chadiza district of Zambia’s Eastern Province. It’s a very neat summary of the new social enterprise being developed by Barclays in collaboration with GSK and humanitarian and development organisation, CARE International.

I’m putting more money in my pocket while saving people’s lives
Elesia, one of the many women Barclays is helping to empower

Barclays and GSK are pioneering ways to help people access healthcare and stimulate economic growth in Africa. The Barclays GSK Partnership has a remit to develop and test different ways of doing business to reach new markets. Live Well is the partnership’s flagship initiative in Zambia.

In the past, I had money but was losing because I didn’t know how to invest
Elesia, a Live Well agent

Through Live Well Elesia receives business and healthcare training, then she buys items ranging from medicines such as diarrhoea treatment kits, pain killers, and other household hygiene products such as toothpaste and solar lamps, and sells them in the local community. She uses the profit to grow her business and build a nest egg to provide for her father and adopted twins.

As Live Well agents, like Elesia, build their networks locally, they are distributing much-needed items and promoting health awareness in remote, hard-to-reach communities. “They rely on me. Some people are starving, literally and I can help.” Unlike some other donor-funded schemes, Live Well is designed to be self-sustaining. Long term, it is hoped that the businesses it supports will stimulate significant economic growth in places where as many as two-thirds of people live in poverty. “I see the agent network growing,” says Elesia.“People love our products. People love the work we are doing to help the communities and we don’t want to stop on the way to success.”

In sub-Saharan Africa, 550 million people – more than the entire population of the United States, Canada, and Mexico combined – live on less than $2 a day. Women and girls make up the majority of the poorest people in the world today (Source: CARE International).

In the Live Well community 80% of the agents are women. With newfound business and health promotion skills, the women are building financial resilience, which empowers them to provide for themselves and their families.  For Elesia, a single mum in rural Zambia, Live Well has made a real difference. “In the past, I had money but was losing because I didn’t know how to invest,” she says. “Now I’m investing in constructive things, like my new house.” 

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