The Problem

Our Solution

Meet Sangje and Motso

The Problem

Things have improved significantly in recent years regarding education in in rural, poor China. This has been due to wonderfully progressive education policy. However, go back a few years and the situation was not so positive for girls from traditional, rural nomadic and semi-nomadic families. It is these girls that we are still needing our help today. Typically, a family would have three children on average. Some very traditional families, sadly, did not see the value of education for their children. If you were a girl belonging to one of these families, your chances of having an education past the minor grades was unlikely. Many parents carried this view due to (1) they themselves did not receive an education; and (2) they would hear stories of university graduates struggling to find employment, so would conclude it is pointless investing money in their daughter.

Add to this that girls would typically be expected to look after family members and house chores in these areas. Young girls would always face the risk of getting married at an early age as the families would believe that young girls should be married and serve their husband and family well, instead of improving themselves. Accordingly, there were many young women left out with less opportunity, not able to progress because of limited education, with many of them largely illiterate.

This program exists to give these women who have missed out (aged from 20 up to 35 years) an opportunity to progress.

Our Solution

At Captivating, we believe that the best solution is getting these women safely into their first job – the best job possible. The My First Job Program is about joining the dots – matching the needs these women have of a genuine, independent life with a good first employer.

For this to happen successfully, we need to do several things well:

  • We need to mentor these women with basic life skills. Many will be timid, lack basic skills such as confidence, self-belief, discipline, persistence, and money management;
  • We need to position these women well, in order for them to win a job. This requires teaching them hands-on vocational skills in popular occupations. These women will also need basic tutoring in reading and math;
  • We need to establish a network of trusted employers willing to give these women a chance;
  • And we need to keep in contact with them (if they are willing) for a reasonable period of time following their job placement to ensure they can overcome obstacles.

In essence, we need to become their motivating voice as they take this first step.

In 2016, we started this program focused specifically on training women to work in restaurants as Assistant Chefs. Over time, we have grown and are able to now offer Embroidery and Tailoring Training. This gives women choices in where they might like to work and learn skills. We provide three months of intensive vocational training with professional chefs, tailors, or embroiderers.

Over 90% of women who start this program graduate. Some women secure employment following their graduation. Many choose to start their own businesses now that they know how to cook, or sew, or create intricate embroidery. This has given women the opportunity to increase her family income and create a more stable source of financial support.

Project Partners


Meet Sangje and Motso

Sanje was born to a poor family. She was not able to go to school but had to ‘grow up’ quickly and take care of her injured father and the daily household chores while her mother had to go out and find some work.

Motso had to finish school in grade 4 and spent the next 11 years in a wheelchair, in and out of hospital. Her family spent all their money and incurred great debt. Motso defied all the doctors’ predictions and at 22 years of age, was finally able to walk again.

Sanje and Motso applied for the Captivating My First Job Assistant Chef program and started their journey to a brighter future in 2016. They eventually secured their very first full-time job in a restaurant as waitresses and assistants to the head chef.

Now independent young women, they dreamed of owning and running their very own restaurant. With careful planning and hard work, their dream came true in September 2017 (see their video on this page).


  • Women are receiving intensive training to become Assistant Chefs by qualified chefs; or Tailors by professional tailors; or Embroiders by recongised artists and emboirdery experts;
  • A once-only donation of RMB3,200 / US$480 provides training and support for a woman to go through the My First Job Program (thanks to ZURU and GPA for fund matching);
  • Training is a 3-month period including mentoring on life skills;
  • We aim to see employment secured for trainees with supportive businesses


What You Will Receive:

  • A project implementation report including lots of great photos and stories.
  • Our 6 monthly All About The Girl update

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Thank you to our project partners