The entire global economic system relies on care giving – the millions of unrecognised and under-valued hours spent ensuring offices are cleaned, children and the elderly are taken care of, and food is prepared for families and workers.
Usually this type of work is viewed as a ‘burden’, and a barrier to women’s economic empowerment, which indeed it can be, but it is also a huge opportunity. One study found that if investment in the care economy matched that of the construction sector in countries in emerging economies, it would create over 27 million new jobs (Women’s Budget Group, 2017). And Oxfam have calculated that the 12.5 billion hours of care work that are completed for free by women and girls every day, represents at least $10.8 trillion of value to the economy every year (Oxfam, 2020)
This is why a new programme initiated by IDRC, Kore Global and partners, is so relevant. It is looking for entrepreneurs and SME’s in Asia, Latin America and Africa, who are transforming the care economy. By registering interest on this form, by 10 December entrepreneurs will have the chance to be part of the project and be profiled to accelerators and investors. Over time some of the SMEs will be supported and potentially matched with MNCs looking to improve their care offerings to workers.
What is the care economy exactly?
The care economy consists of the paid and unpaid labour and services that support caregiving in all its forms
Work in the home:
Domestic chores such as cooking, washing, cleaning, collecting water or fuel, or taking care of family members, including children, the elderly, those who are ill or who have disabilities. This work is usually invisible, undervalued and unpaid
Work outside of the home:
Paid work taking care of persons or households not in one’s direct family. This includes domestic work, child and elder care, and care for those who are ill or who have disabilities. This work is often undervalued and underpaid, without a fair work framework in place (eg. lack of contract, workers rights, paid leaves, etc)
What type of entrepreneur or SME do I need to be to register for this programme?
Care economy businesses can help to recognise, reduce, reward and redistribute care work in the following ways:
Products and initiatives that reduce the time and burden of unpaid care and domestic work.
Is your business providing affordable time and labour saving technology and services?
Products, services and initiatives that ensure that care and domestic workers are paid fairly and can progress in their careers, providing them with financial reward and security. Is your business providing technology and services that upskill domestic and care workers? Is your business improving working conditions for domestic and care workers?
Redistribute: Services and initiatives that:
1) Redistribute care work from individuals to public and private sector entities, and
2) Redistribute care and domestic work within the household
Is your business providing affordable care and domestic work products and services? Are you running marketing and information campaigns, or training that raises awareness and increases recognition of unfair care and domestic work burdens and increases motivation to shift these either within the household or from individuals to the public and private sector?
Examples of these sorts of businesses include:
Kidogo is a social enterprise that improves access to quality, affordable Early Childhood Care & Education in Kenya’s low income communities.
Drinkwell is a technology platform for clean water in Bangladesh. Their technology is embedded within water infrastructure purifying millions of litres of water every month.
A Colombian tech-enabled facility management platform offering high quality cleaning and maintenance services to its clients, and well paid and lasting job opportunities to its collaborators.
If you are or know of any similar efforts please encourage them to register for the new programme by 10th December. It could offer the opportunity to pilot or scale initiatives for lasting impact.