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Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship

by Reach Out NGO
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Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship

DISCLAIMER: This story contains sexual violence.

The beneficiary depicted in this story is NOT in the pictures. The pictures show 100 women who were trained and supported at the same time than her. Like her, some of them might have gone through such episodes, but not all.

Beatrice is an IDP from Konye, one of the areas most hard-hit by the conflict in Meme Division, South West Region of Cameroon. She is a mother of seven who lost her house and husband to the cold hands of the crisis.

Prior to the Anglophone crisis, Beatrice and her husband together with their children survived on subsistence farming. Though life was not really easy, insecurity was never one of their problems. When the Anglophone crisis started in 2016, with the frequent confrontation between the Military and armed groups, Konye became too insecure for people.

Every few days, everybody in the village is running to seek refuge in the bush and forest while the shooting and raids go on. Many villagers have built shelters in the bush. On a fateful day, the village was informed of the military coming. “My husband took the children and I. He kept us in our bush house and went back to town. After four days I heard nothing from my husband. I had heard some men and boys were shot in a house while hiding from the military. Little did I know that my husband was amongst those killed. For more than 5 days, nobody told me about my husband’s death though the villagers kept discussing in their dialect which I could not understand. One day a lady came to my hut and was mourning and tried to console me for the loss. I was shocked and confused because I could not remember losing any person. Immediately she said so the other women called her and told her in Oroko dialect that she should not have done so. That I have not been told because I have a four months old baby and they don’t think that I will be able to handle my reactions. That was when I realized there was something fishy about their behavior and I insisted they tell me what was wrong. The news of my husband’s death stroked my heart like a blade. I looked at my children and the little baby I had at hand. The women kept consoling me and try to give me hope.” Beatrice stayed in the bush for 2 months and took ill. Her friends in the bush carried her with her children to a roadside where she was carried to the hospital in Kumba and was admitted at the general hospital for four days. With nobody to cater for her in the hospital and her children, Beatrice called one of her friends who was in Konye and informed her of her decision to move Ekona to a relative of hers.

There in Ekona, life was not easy as the military kept on storming the area and they had to seek refuge in the bush. “Though there was food for us to eat, water was a problem and the distance we cover to hide from the military was really long coupled with the hills we climbed. Sometimes they come at night and we have to leave the house and go to the bush. “While people are running, I run with my 6 children, I have seen the two sides of life” said Beatrice (This is an idiom that means “I have suffered too much”).

While in Ekona, she decided to go back to Konye in March 2019 and pick up the few of her belongings from the bush house and to know where her husband was buried. On her way to the farmhouse, she was taken by some unidentified men in a camp and she stayed there for over 4 days together with other women. She struggled and explained herself to one of the men who then helped her to escape from the camp. Upon her arrival, she did not tell anybody what happened because she was ashamed and heartbroken. She was also pregnant.

 

"An aunt of mine called me to come to Tole and stay with her and in March 2019 she went to Tole. While in Tole though life was not too difficult, we still had to run from the house and stayed in the bush for over a month.” Beatrice started harvesting Tea from the Tole tea estate to make a living. She did other menial jobs as well. As time went on, Beatrice realized she was pregnant and was really traumatized.

in July 2019, Reach Out NGO partnering with Care International identified Beatrice as a pregnant woman (3-4months) while implementing a project to support survivors of Gender-Based Violence in Fako Division, South West Region. She opened up to us and attended her first antenatal visit in July 2019.

In November 2019, she was incorporated into the Keep a Girl Alive Program for Economic Empowerment. She was trained and given a business capital of 30,000CFA francs which she used to expand her popcorn business. Having worked with her for 11 months, Beatrice today owns a small provision store in Tole Camp. The business has been a great source of livelihood for her and her 7 children the last child is 4 months old). From the business, she was able to continue with her antenatal and prepare herself for delivery. The first child who is 21 years old lives with a friend of hers in Buea and attends University. Beatrice is able to pay for her child’s school fees and meet up with other basic needs.

The graph below shows her capital and profit for the past 10months of her under the watchful eyes of Reach Out. Although profits are not consistently growing because she works in a very difficult context, she has been able to build a solid foundation with more and more capital, and she generates enough to live.

 

Thanks so much for your donations. This is how far you go to put smiles on women’s faces around the world especially Cameroon’s North and South West Regions which have been bedeviled by the Anglophone crisis since 2016 and women are feeling the greatest effects (especially economic) of the crisis.

Today, and for four more days, any donation between 10 and 50$ will be matched by GlobalGiving by 50%. Take this opportunity to help us find the next Beatrice.

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Winifred is a mother of 6 who was forcefully displaced from Banakuma in Wum Sub-Division of the North West Region to Buea (more than 500 KM away). Before the crisis, Winifred and her children depended on Agricultural produce for survival. Though life was tough, they had always managed to provide for themselves. In the wake of the crisis, Wum became a battleground for the Non-State Armed Groups (NSAGs) and the state Military. The frequent confrontation between the two groups exposed the local population of Banakuma village to casualties. Houses were burnt, people killed, and the environment was constantly tense.

When asked of the whereabouts of her husband, she replied: “He left me years ago for another woman.” So Winifred is a single mother of 6.

As the intensity of the war increased, Winifred decided to flee the village with her children. "I could bear living in the bush with my children, but looking at rate at which young boys were picking up arms I feared my son, who was forced to drop out of school, could also join his peers”. Though it was not an easy decision to make, circumstances forced Winifred to heed to her friend’s call to come and live with her in Buea.

When she arrived Buea in 2018, she lived in Tole with a friend of hers. There, Winifred engaged fully into tea harvesting together with her sons and daughters. More than half of the population in Tole depends on tea harvesting. Though the pay is very little and the job is intense, most of the inhabitants especially displaced persons like Winifred embraced it wholeheartedly. "I stayed in a camp house with my 6 children in a thatched room. Comfort was not a priority for me. I left the village with a mattress and some few belongings.”

Winifred bought a basic tea harvesting machine for 6000 francs ($12). 1 kg of harvested tea will earn the laborer 30 francs. With the machine, she and her children could harvest between 45kg to 50kg of tea a day. Winifred could make 7500 CFA ($15) a week which enabled her to cater to her 6 children. The machine was fast but had its disadvantages. It was heavy and required a lot of energy for it to work. Because of this, she took ill with chest pains, cough, and catarrh. At times she would vomit blood. The money she made from the harvest was instead used for medication. She stopped the work and moved to Small Soppo in February 2019, there, she rented a room for 4000 francs a month ($8). Any time it rained, Winifred and her children could hardly sleep because the house had too many holes on the roof.

While in Small Soppo, she engaged in tomato business. She will go to a farmer, buy a basket of fresh tomatoes which cost about 4000-5000 CFA ($8-$10) go to the market and sell it. Every day she would make a profit of 1500 francs ($3). Depending on the turnover and the season, she could make 3000 francs ($6) a day. Some months after, she moved to another house where she paid the same rents.

One of her neighbour's friends came from Douala looking for a child to live with. The neighbour took the friend to Winifred’s place and her 12 years old daughter accepted to go with the woman. The woman assured her not to worry that she will send her daughter to school in Douala. But time has passed, and the situation of her child is not clear. “I am so worried about my child. It’s been over a year now since that lady took my child I don't even know where she lives in Douala. Each time I till the lady I want to come to see my child, she will tell me that they are coming to Buea. My child does not go to school. But I speak with her on phone, and she assures me that all is well. But I am still worried about her. I am so worried because I am not educated and won’t want my daughter to end up like me. It disturbs me because I want her to go to school and not to end up like me”.

One day, the landlord asked her to leave because she was not paying her rents on time. She was given three days to pack out of the house. She had no money to go to rent another room. While in the market, she heard a lady talked of Reach Out and how it has helped her stand firm in the business, she traced the whereabouts of the organization and came to the office. She explained her story, and a staff was sent to the compound where she lives to verify the authenticity of her story and make more inquiries, she qualified for the program and had immediate needs. The organization paid her rents for 2 months including Electricity bill from an emergency fund, and she was given a business grant of 30,000 francs ($60) and introduced into the Keep a Girl Alive project (this project).

In May 2020, she was given her second level business grant of 50,000 francs ($100) which she has used to expand her business with other provisions like rice, soap, beans, groundnuts, Maggi, and salt. "Thanks to REO I can afford for my rents without stress, my children have their three square meals a day, I made my savings of 50,000 ($185) in a Market Njangi and I can say I am debt free, though my last child frequently gets sick, I can afford her drugs and other health bills”.

Thanks so much for your generosity. This is how far your donations go to change women's stories in the world and make them believe in themselves again. As at May 2020, Winifred had a working capital of 70,000 ($120). Reach Out is following the case of her daughter in Douala and we hope to give you good news in the next report.

BONUS DAY:

Today, starting right now, and any donation above 100$ will be increased by GlobalGiving. If you give 100$-500$, they add an extra 15%, 500 to 749 will be 30%, and if you give 750 to 1,000, your donation will be matched by 50%.

Also if you sign up today for a monthly donation the first donation is doubled.

Consider supporting our work so we can continue helping fighters like Winifred.

disbursement day (winifred in the corner right)
disbursement day (winifred in the corner right)

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Jeanet in the market
Jeanet in the market

“This crisis forced me to run from Tole and relocate to small soppo” said Jeanet a KGA beneficiary. Jeanet is a 27 years old girl who has felt the brunt’s and scums of the ongoing Anglophone crisis among other women in Tole. In October 2018, before during and after the presidential elections that took place in Cameroon, Jeanet and her parents including her siblings had as routine to frequent the bushes to seek for security. When it became unbearable for most families in Tole Jeanet’s own inclusive, many decided to leave Tole and settled around small Soppo  in Buea.

Being the first child in a family of three Jeanet decided to settle in Small Soppo and rented a room there together with her child’s father (though not married) and her daughter who is 3 years of age. Jeanet is an advanced level holder who dropped out of school because she became pregnant. She could not continue school so she had to came leave with her parents. While with her parents, she helped her mother out at the market to sell vegetable.

Having dealt in vegetable  business prior to the Anglophone crisis, when Jeanet, her daughter and the daughter’s father relocated to small Soppo in December 2018. While in small soppo, she started the vegetable business with the sum of 10000 frs ($20). With this amount Jeanet started going to Tole and buying vegetable from farmers there then she brings it to Buea and sell at a retail price of between 300 to 500 frs depending on the season.

When she was identified and integrated in the KGA program in November 2019 she received a grant of 30000frs ($60) she increased her purchasing power and added a variety of vegetable to her business. At first she could buy just bitter leaf and water leave because these ones are not too expensive. But when she received her first level grant she added huckle berry and okongobong. Due to the increase in her purchasing power, she  is now a supplier to some local restaurants in town . she supplies washed vegetable to Mariton Hotel in Buea. To further increase a market base, Jeanet also slice the vegetable in the market on commands. When a customer buys vegetable from her, with the demand of the customer, she slices it and she is paid for it. For example a bundle of better leaf which she sells for 300frs when ask to slice it u pay your slicing for 100frs which makes her earn 400frs for that vegetable. When asked why she does the slicing, she said “many people sell vegetable in the market and if you are not smart to add something that is not commonly done in the market then you won’t advance in business”.

As of  February 2020, Jeanet had a  monthly working capital of 49000 ($98) and a monthly profit of 30600 CFA approximately ($61). Due to her increase in capital and profit, together with the training she got on book keeping and savings, Jeanet has now joint a weekly Njangi where she saves 5000 CFA  every Friday. She has accumulated savings of 60000 CFA ($120) as of February 2020 when she was monitored and evaluated. “My child is 3 years old now and I can say I am partially ready and prepared to send her to school. I am already preparing and saving for some of her school needs. I believe by September I will be fully prepared for her to start school” said Jeanet.

Jeanet plans on opening a provision store in Small Soppo. This is one of the reasons why she is so committed to her weekly savings. She is hoping that if all goes well, by August 2020, with the sum of 150000 CFA  ($300) she will start up this her new business.

Thanks for the assistance you give women around the world. This is how far your help goes to put smiles and revive hope among them.

a one on one follow up with Jeanet in the office
a one on one follow up with Jeanet in the office
Linda a nursing mother explaining her record
Linda a nursing mother explaining her record
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Joan an IDP program beneficiary in the market
Joan an IDP program beneficiary in the market

Blessing is a 20-year-old girl who dropped out from school due to financial constraints.   She obtained her First School Leaving Certificate in 2013 and later enrolled into Government Secondary School Bakweri Town.  In the year 2013/2014, she attended form one because she was duly registered and her fees was paid. After that year, her parents could not pay her fees. “Though I continued school, i was never given a report card” said Blessing. Since the whole class was always promoted, I just moved to the next class without knowing my grade nor my position in class. I continued like that till 2018 when the whole of form 4 was promoted to form 5. In form 5, she could not continue school without fees because she had to register for the General Certificate of Education. There was no money for that and she finally left school.

Coming from a family of 6 in a community in the Fako Division of the South West Region where 90% of its inhabitants rely on extensive agriculture (Tea harvesting and planting), life has not really been easy for a mother of 6 who rarely gets any financial support from her husband.  Tole is a rural community that depends largely on the harvesting and planting of  Tea on the estate. Depending on the workers strength, the monthly salary ranges between 15,000 ($30) to 20,000 ($40) frs. “My mother is old in  age and can hardly go beyond 15,000 FRS a month.  With my father doing nothing for a living, mum could barely feed all of us. Talkless of affording school fees for me”. 

Before becoming a beneficiary for the KGA program, Blessing finally dropped out from school in 2018, and started doing “water fufu” business in 2017. Water Fufu is a stapple food of the South-West, made out of Cassava.  “When I finally realized that I could not steal and attend classes in form 5 because I had to register for the GCE, I focused on my fufu business.  I started buying cassava for 7,000frs ($14) and gotsmall containers to ferment the cassava inside.

In July 2018, with our donors´ support, Blessing was identified and her skills on entrepreneurship were developed. She was also trained on Book keeping and savings after which she was given her first level grant of 30,000frs.($60) With the addition of her capital, she was able to afford bigger drums of 200 litters to ferment the cassava inside. She also increased her purchasing power of cassava from 7,000 to 10,000frs and her profits increased from 3,500 to 6,000 a week. So did her savings. “Every Saturday after I sell, I make sure I save 5,000frs in our Njangi(communal savings practice).  

Growing up as a child, Blessing wished to become a banker , but due to financial constraints, she is no longer seeing her self-achieving that dream. But this has not completely shattered  her hopes of becoming a game-changer in her family. In 2019, Blessing switched to learning welding in a technical workshop in Buea. Being the only female apprentice in a work place of 5 male colleagues, blessing has the vision of graduating after three years and going back to the Cameroon Opportunity Industrialization Centre (C.O.I.C) to obtain a certificate. “I believe with that certificate I can have a job anywhere in Cameroon since I don’t think I will be able to afford my own workshop” said Blessing. When asked of when and how she had the passion for welding she replied;

“It’s not like anybody in our family is a welder neither do I have somebody I admire doing the job.  Since there is no school in Tole, a neighbor of ours sent his son to learn the trade. When he comes back from work and start talking about the welding stuff, the way he presented it was interesting. He told us in the quarter how soon he will be the one making doors and windows and everything that concerns Iron, I was surprised and interested. So I inquired from him if a girl can do this he said yes that’s how I decided to register”.

With her monthly savings of 20000frs Blessing started learning her trade in March 2019, and she pays  an annual fee of 50,000 frs ($100). She has to learn this trade for 3 years.  Blessing is still actively involved in her business like never before. She buys her cassava every week and her mother assists her in the processing while she goes to work. On market days she goes to the market and sells her fufu. From her monthly savings Blessing pays for her trade and supports her younger one who is in primary 6 in Government school Bokwango.

This is how far your donations have gone to make a young girl like Blessing, and many others like her, see a light at the end of the tunnel and to brave the odds of doing what many in her community see it as a man’s job. Thanks for your donation.

Blessing in the welding workshop
Blessing in the welding workshop
Jennet selling her vegetable in the market
Jennet selling her vegetable in the market
Blandine in front of her business space
Blandine in front of her business space
clara doing her business in the quarter
clara doing her business in the quarter
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Loretta in her newly rented shop with her baby
Loretta in her newly rented shop with her baby

After the identification of 75 Internally Displaced women and girls in Limbe, Ekona and Buea through a door to door process using a Social Enquiry form,  63 women were finally targeted for our Keep a Girl Alive Program through Entrepreneurship based on their level of vulnerability and willingness to be engaged into business. 40 women were assisted in Buea, 12 in Ekona and 11 from Limbe. A detailed business plan was drawn by each of these women together with the Reach Out Team. Trainings took place in Buea, Limbe and Ekona on the 8th, 20th and the 27th of November 2019 respectively.

Two days after each training, the Reach Out team carried out business site visits. out of the 40 women in Buea, 35 were evidently seen doing business while 10 were seen but had not started due to some minor logistical challenges, like they are setting-up the supply of their goods from the farm to the towns. 5 women were not seen but were communicated with on phone.

Loretta who is an Internally Displaced Person from Mamfe started her own expansion the same day she received the grant. She lives with a family uncle of hers in Buea. “I came to Buea in February and stayed in the house without doing anything for three months. Life was not easy. We were 3 of us who ran from Mamfe living with my uncle with our babies. He struggled all alone to cater for us. The burden was too much on him until in July, he gave me 15.000 francs ($30) to start doing something so I could support myself and my baby. I could barely start anything apart from sewing. I bought all the necessary equipment like thread, needles, scissors just to name a few so I could sew some dresses. I bought materials to sew just for 10,000 frs and had to buy other things like the Zips, linings and others to sew.

I went to a tailoring shop already well-established and rented a machine there for two days which cost me 3,000 CFA ($6) for two days. I was able to sew seven good simple Cabas (traditional dress and hawk around to sell. I sold one for 3500 FRS ($7). Though the capital and the profit prevented me from doing more, I was just happy for the fact that I could leave the house and put my skills to use.

The day I received the grant from Reach Out, I saw myself in another dimension.  I took that money that same 8th of November went to a place I had seen available for rents. Immediately I paid the landlord 13,000 frs ($26) rent for a month. I bought materials and my sewing equipment in bulk. I saw a second hand machine on sale so I took it and promised to pay in instalments. I have entered a daily Njangi (Savings group) in which I save 3,500 frs ($7) on a weekly basis. My son and I can now have three square meals a day. I have many customers now and the demand for my products have greatly improved  am so happy to own and manage my own shop. I can now take full responsibility of my child and bring food in the house without my uncle giving me money.

By March 2020 I intend to rent my own room, bring my younger brother who is in Mamfe with my parents so that he can go to school here in Buea. I intend to be one of the biggest fashion designers in Buea and to also employ other young girls.”

Thank you so much for helping girls like Loretta  realize their dreams in dignity through your donations.

Carine selling food stuff in the market
Carine selling food stuff in the market
Chamba preparing her vegetables for the market
Chamba preparing her vegetables for the market
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Organization Information

Reach Out NGO

Location: Buea, South West Region - Cameroon
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Twitter: @reachoutdev1
Project Leader:
Njomo Omam Esther
Executive Director
Buea, South West Region Cameroon
$95,303 raised of $127,985 goal
 
1,090 donations
$32,682 to go
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