Cartier Philanthropy - Women changing the construction industry

Women changing the construction industry


Uneducated and marginalised women from Nairobi’s informal settlements can become skilled carpenters, joiners, painters and plasterers, joining the construction industry, one of the most gender-segregated and fastest growing sectors in Kenya. That’s the big idea behind Buildher, a Kenyan social-enterprise that trains disadvantaged young women in accredited construction skills and crucial life skills to increase their chances of stable employment and greater economic independence, while changing attitudes and promoting gender inclusivity in the sector. Following a first grant, we’ve now renewed our support for Buildher to further refine and strengthen its model with the aim of training 680 women and graduating them into paid, qualified skilled positions over the next two years.

Focus area
Women’s Social and Economic Development Sustainable Livelihoods and Ecosystems


Africa is projected to have the fastest urban growth in the world. This urban transition offers great opportunities, but also poses significant challenges. In Kenya, the construction industry faces an alarming lack of skilled designers and professionals. Moreover, less than 3% of its workforce is accounted for by women, none of whom are in skilled or leadership roles.


Buildher trains disadvantaged young women from informal settings, equipping them with construction skills and an accredited professional certification that increases their chances of stable employment and greater economic independence. The curriculum includes technical and life skills, and social support programmes placing special emphasis on building confidence and leadership.

Buildher supports the graduates proactively through a network of construction employer partners, securing dignified-pay employment opportunities that enable them to dramatically increase their income (from approximately $3/day to $8-12/day after graduation).

Following a first grant, we’re continuing to support Builder to refine and strengthen its training curricula, adapt its placement strategy and prove its model’s ability to meet market needs and demands.

Expected results

  • 688  young women living in Nairobi are enrolled in the programme and become competent skilled women construction workers. 80% are expected to transition into long-term employment in construction, fabrication and related industries, increasing their incomes by 530% and improving the lives of over 5,000 family members.
  • The injection of a female qualified workforce into the male-dominated construction industry contributes to changing cultural attitudes around gendered work in Kenya.

Long-term strategy

Buildher aims to increase the participation of women in skilled construction roles from its current 1.5% to 10% by 2030, while ensuring that women earn equal pay for equal work and have equal access to career growth opportunities. Building on its social-enterprise model, Buildher plans to steadily increase the number of women enrolled each year, decreasing the cost-per-woman trained over time through earned revenue streams.