VSF: WOMEN ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT, THE JOURNEY SO FAR.
The Nigeria Foundation for the Support of Victims of Terrorism (Victims Support Fund) launched its prioritized intervention for women in November 2015. The purpose of these interventions is to improve quality of life through livelihood and entrepreneurial programmes. The states selected as initial intervention take off sites are Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States.
The women economic empowerment programme is designed to provide support to women and ultimately their families. The women targeted to benefit are widows who lost their husbands to the insurgency and as head of their households, are the breadwinners. The project is tailored to address the priority needs of these affected women which is cash support for small business development.
1000 women in Borno received 20,000 each. The selected women were identified with skills in Hula (cap) making, vegetable oil production, tailoring and other income generating activities such as petty trading. The women were trained and the content of the training was customised and tailored specifically to meet the needs of the Women groups formed with a focus on equipping participants with skills necessary to roll out the Savings and Loans Association (SLA). Each of these groups will eventually transition to registered cooperatives, which will position the groups to benefit from products and services from financial institutions.
The women have begun investing in their chosen economic activities. They have set up and are working hard to grow their small businesses and have also commenced weekly meetings in their SLA groups. VSF team provides supportive supervision to the women in order to verify the establishment of small businesses and keep track of successes and challenges recorded.
Below is one of the success stories from beneficiaries of the VSF Women Economic Empowerment Programme.
A New Dawn for Maryam Umar
Maryam Umar is a 25 year old widow with 3 children. She hails from Baga in Kukawa Local government area of Borno State. She owned a small stall where she sold food items and made good profits. She lived happily with her family. Her happiness was cut short as Boko Haram struck. “They destroyed everything we had lived and worked for. Most painful of all, my husband was slayed by the terrorists right in front of me and my 3 children. It was a sight that cannot be wiped out of our memories too soon” She recounted. “Many people were taken captive by Boko Haram, but we were lucky and escaped with some other people to Geidam”. Geidam is a community in Yobe State and not far from Baga. It was from there that the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) discovered them and made arrangements to relocate them to the Gubio Road IDP Camp in Maiduguri.
“I suffered so much to provide meals for my children when we arrived here.” She narrated. “The meal served here were not enough for us and so my children suffered malnourishment”. Life was never the same for her again after she lost her husband.
While in her predicament, she was selected to benefit from the Victims Support Fund (VSF) Cash Assistance of N20, 000.00. “I was very excited when I was told that I have been selected by other women to become a member of their group and that VSF would give us N20, 000.00 each so we could start up businesses”.
Maryam Umar has received N20, 000.00 from VSF and has set up a small stall for herself. Now, she sells bathing and washing soap, spices and other food items. “Other IDPs come to buy from me, so I’m busy selling in my stall. I make beverages for my 3 children while waiting for meals to be served. Sometimes, cooking of meals are delayed unduly here, I also cook for my children”. “I am now happy that VSF has helped to be able to take care of my children and start all over again”.
Maryam is one among other women victims of insurgency who have means of livelihood restored by the Victims Support Fund.