Nigeria: Program helps refugee gain the right tools to grow their business


Entrepreneur refugee

Since 2017, the ongoing conflict in Cameroon has caused thousands of people to flee their homes to neighbouring Nigeria, including 34-year-old Annette.

“Everything was halted. Schools were shut and we all started living in fear. I couldn’t even attend my grandmother’s funeral because of the conflict. The military that used to be our helpers and protectors became our enemies,” she said.

Annette grew up in the South-West region of Cameroon, where the weather is hot and there are beautiful markets. The second youngest of nine children, Annette’s dad died when she was five years old. Even though things were tough after that, she was able to complete her education.

Once in Nigeria, Annette was introduced to Cuso International’s SKILLS project. In partnership with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the SKILLS project provides training in business development, entrepreneurship, and vocational and technical skills. Additionally, participants receive starter kits to support their businesses.

Annette, who is married with three children, was able to gain the training she needed to improve her catering business and get the equipment she needed, something she couldn’t afford previously.

“This program has been extremely beneficial; especially the trainings. I learnt a lot during the trainings and this knowledge I have applied to my business and my business has grown so much,” she said. “I now get contracts to bake cakes and pastries. I also get to cook for occasions, and I get paid.”

Thanks to the program, Annette said she has been able to grow and build her potential.

“Many of us would have suffered if not for this project, many others would have relocated because of the hardship. Life with no livelihood support is very difficult,” she said. “For me, I can feed my children now and take care of my family, and life is easier.”

In the future, Annette hopes to help others around her, as well as start employing people to support her with her business. She also hopes women back in Cameroon will be able to live easier lives and stop struggling to make a living.

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