Nigeria: Program helps women build skills to start their own business


Nigeria Program helps women build skills to start their own business

In Cross River State, Nigeria, women and young girls face many hardships. In some communities, Gender-based violence (GBV), sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), harmful practices, unwanted pregnancies, school dropouts, and poor living standards are prevalent. Being economically dependent increases the chances of vulnerability.

In fact, about 65 percent of women in the region have reported suffering physical violence since age 15. And 20 percent have experienced SGBV.

Cuso International local partner Gender and Development Action (GADA) is working to reduce GBV in the community, supporting women and girls’ economic empowerment. This includes the Vocational Skills Acquisition and Economic Empowerment for 15 Out-of-School Girls and Women Survivors of GBV project.

It is part of Cuso International’s Sharing Canadian Expertise for Inclusive Development and Gender Equality (SHARE) program, which was initiated in 2020 and funded by Global Affairs Canada.

The project helps women become more financially independent, which contributes to their well-being, that of their families’, as well as the community at large.

Participants were trained in vocational skills such as hairdressing, make-up and gele tying, and soap-making. They also received starter kits and connected with professionals for additional business skills training and mentorship.

Gedoni, 22, an undergraduate at the University of Calabar was one of the project’s participants. Losing her father at a young age, her mother took care of Gedoni and her two brothers, while also working as a peasant farmer.

Gedoni first heard about GADA from a friend and knew she wanted to get involved to help support her mother.

“At that moment, that information was music to my ears. I saw it as a big opportunity, I joyfully and prayerfully applied and luckily, I was among the successful beneficiaries. It was an exciting news,” said Gedoni.

She soon mastered the soap-making skills and started her own soap and disinfectant business, which has helped take some of the financial burden off her mother. Her business has made more than 50,000 Naira in profit, taking care of her immediate needs while also helping support her family.

“This project came as a redemption. It took the most vulnerable women and girls out of their state of hopelessness, gave them hope, gave them a reason not to give up on life, and made them believe in themselves again,” she said.

Gedoni supplies products to hospitals, nursing mothers, laundry companies, and cleaning agencies. She is working to expand her network of customers across the country, as well as outside Nigeria.

“As I grow and expand my business, women will form the majority of staff in my employ. This would be my way of giving back and improving the lives of women,” she said.

Help support more women like Gedoni achieve their dreams. Donate today.