Literacy, vocational training program set for global expansion  

SAN DIEGO, CALIF.– PCI (Project Concern International) has launched the Women Empowered (WE) Initiative, an organizational effort to promote gender equity and empowerment in select developing countries around the world. PCI will also launch the WE Initiative in targeted poor communities in San Diego in October 2012. In preparation for the WE Initiative’s launch, PCI partnered with Women’s Empowerment International, a San Diego-based organization focused on lifting women out of poverty in San Diego, CA, Mexico, Honduras and Benin. Women’s Empowerment International is assisting PCI in raising funds for the WE Initiative, and many of its community members will serve as mentors to program participants.

PCI provides training to savings group participants in small business management, literacy, numeracy, entrepreneurship, financial budgeting and leadership skills. This training, coupled with savings group activities, provides a platform for sustainable businesses, economic development and social empowerment. As a result of participating in savings groups, members:

  • Discuss social challenges and address them as a group;
  • Learn entrepreneurship skills and small business development;
  • Contribute to household income;
  • Provide a financial safety net for their families;
  • Increase family nutrition; and
  • Reduce reliance on public assistance and related social services.

PCI has developed a measurement tool to track two components of the program:

  1. The success of the group by tracking financial performance, member satisfaction and operating efficiency.
  2. Impact at the individual level by tracking social, physical, behavioral and economic characteristics of participants.

PCI has proven success with the WE Initiative internationally. Through private funds of close to $160,000 and government grants supporting platform programs, PCI has coordinated the formation of 418 savings groups in Malawi, 125 savings groups in Bolivia, 28 savings groups in Guatemala, and four savings groups in Botswanainvolving nearly 10,000 women in total.

Founded in San Diego, PCI has over 50 years of experience implementing programs to alleviate poverty in the San Diego and Tijuana border region. PCI’s Family Health Navigator Resource Center in San Diego is an innovative family-centered patient navigator model that seeks to improve health outcomes for 85,330 individuals with chronic diseases. Through this program, PCI formed strong relationships with immigrant and refugee populations in San Diego, particularly the Latino, Filipino and East African communities. Women in these communities struggle economically due to minimal job opportunities, language barriers and limited financial education. As a result, PCI will introduce the WE Initiative to the Latino, Filipino and East African communities to help women integrate into the workforce. The WE Initiative is focused on promoting the economic and social empowerment of women through the formation of self-managed and self-sustaining savings groups. PCI will form six savings groups (comprised of 60-90 low-income women) with two savings groups within each of the aforementioned communities.

PCI’s CEO George Guimaraes commented, “Our Women Empowered program will be the cornerstone of our programmatic plans moving forward. We believe in this model and have seen extraordinary results in program participants’ household income growth, and in their feelings of self-empowerment. This is true transformational development.”

In addition to Women’s Empowerment International, PCI is seeking additional partners to contribute to and support the WE Initiative in San Diego. For more information contact Annette Gregg at or visit