Engaging Migrant Women for Development in Africa

"We always believed that migration can be a positive drive for development and migrant women can become key agents in this process. WMIDA is an important step forward for our Migration and Development Programmes"
-- Peter Schatzer, Chief of Mission, IOM Italy

The IOM programme "Migrant Women for Development in Africa" (WMIDA) aims at engaging West African women migrants residing in Italy in the development of their countries. The programme will support West African women migrants interested in using their remittances to establish small or medium enterprises in their countries of origin through joint ventures with Italian partners and host communities.

Fifteen entrepreneurial projects will be chosen among the proposals presented by migrant women and their associations; and will receive financial support. The migrant women will undergo professional training on business development, management and access to credit. WMIDA does not necessarily imply the permanent return of migrant entrepreneurs to their countries of origin, but rather their involvement, even from afar, in carrying out development projects.

Funded by the Italian government, the WMIDA programme builds on existing IOM efforts under the Migration for Development in Africa (MIDA) strategy to engage African migrants in the development of their countries of origin through investments, business creation, and identifying possible synergies between the communities of origin and of destination.

WMIDA recognizes the role of women in local development, poverty reduction and peace keeping in many African countries, and reflects the importance of women in migration flows: a trend which is visible in Italy, too, where migrant women are almost 50 per cent of all foreign citizens residing in the country.

Key Objectives

  • Empower Western Sub Saharan African women residing in Italy and promote their role in the socio-economic development of their countries of origin.
  • Mobilize the professional, social and financial resources of Western Sub Saharan African women who migrated to Italy and who are interested in promoting development projects in their countries of origin, particularly through entrepreneurial activities that generate jobs, with the support, partnership and co-funding of their hosting communities.
  • Enhance the value of migrant women's remittances by working with financial and banking institutions in Italy and countries of origin, so as to reduce money transfer fees, create new financial products, and promote the use of savings for productive investments and social initiatives.

Principal Activities

  • Map the presence of West African women in Italy as well as diaspora organizations and networks that have been set up and which could also work on migration and development issues.
  • Network with local public and private Italian institutions interested in supporting African women's socio-economic development initiatives in countries of origin
  • Launching a Call for Proposals to collect small-to-medium entrepreneurial projects of Western African migrant women, and select 15 projects for funding
  • Support selected projects through co-funding and technical assistance (business development training and tutoring)
  • Carry out research with gender-related data on access to banking services, with focus on the savings trends and the remittance patterns of migrant women residing in Italy towards their countries of origin in Western Sub Saharan Africa
  • Create and disseminate a comparative analysis of available money transfer costs and services, from Italy to selected countries in Western Sub Saharan Africa


  • Migrant women from Western Sub-Saharan Africa regularly residing in Italy
  • Their communities of origin

Concrete Benefits

As the project is still fairly new, information on concrete benefits is not yet available. Nevertheless, up to 37 projects were collected in response to the Call for Proposals from Senegalese, Ghanaian, Burkinabe, Ivorian, Cameroonian, Cape Verdean, Malian, Nigerian, Sierra Leonian and Togolese women. Most projects target the agricultural sector and foresee a total budget between 60 and 75,000 Euros. Candidates proposed partnerships with numerous entities of the host and origin communities (mainly NGOs, associations, local authorities, and enterprises).