Starting and running a business can be challenging. It requires bravery and grit — skills we believe are essential to our work here at Women for Women International. Women business owners are everyday change-makers and leaders supporting their families and communities.
Our Build Business Forward series focuses on the incredible stories of three women in Nigeria who revived or began a business through the skills learned in their Stronger Women, Stronger Nations program and regained their power. This is the journey of Deborah, a salon owner in Kaduna State, Nigeria.
My name is Deborah. I am 41-years-old, married, and blessed with four children, a girl and three boys, between the ages of 3-17 years. I am a native of Tum Kagoro in Kaura Local Government Area of Kaduna state, Nigeria. I reside with my family in Sabon Tasha Kaduna. My husband is a carpenter and works hard to support our family, but the constant challenge we have always had was not having enough money to provide for our needs. My husband does not get many jobs as a carpenter as our community is semi-urban. I operate a hairdressing salon and faced a similar challenge as my husband.
In 2020, I tried combining hairdressing and selling low-quality wrappers and slippers with borrowed money. However, the items were collected on credit and I ran into debt. Things became even harder for me and my family, causing my husband and me to quarrel a lot over putting food on the table, payments for our children’s school fees, and other basic needs. Peace eluded my life and home, making it hard to engage in reasonable communication with my husband and affecting our children.
It was during this situation that I got information from women in my community about enrolling in the Women for Women International program. My life and family have been positively impacted economically, health-wise, and relationship-wise since November 2020 when I joined my program.
The training stipend I receive every month in my program enabled me to start selling soft drinks in my salon and adding new hair attachments. I have stopped credit sales or services, and I revived my business with the skills and knowledge I learned from the business training. I enhanced my braiding skills and now plait more, bringing up business. I have started earning more, and I now effectively save N600 weekly in the Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) group.
I am so happy that I am able to set some money aside because I have never succeeded in savings before now. With the money I'm saving I want to buy some local fabrics, more hair attachments, and weave-ins to sell during the Christmas season.
Before joining the program I use to be timid, but now I'm strong in self-confidence after learning about my rights as a woman, especially my rights to freedom of speech and leadership. My new skills and knowledge are a source of inspiration to my community church women group and my Women for Women groups. One big thing I shall remain grateful for is the peace and harmony that has been restored in my home as I avoid conflict with my husband but rather embrace negotiating and communicating with him. I learned to have productive dialogue with him to resolve our differences whether regarding food or other issues in our home. We relate and understand each other better.
"My new skills and knowledge are a source of inspiration to my community church women group and my Women for Women groups."
I was wary about visiting the hospital to access health care, which is the reason I lost a pregnancy in the past. The sessions I had on health and wellness have enlightened me on the importance of receiving medical care. I have stopped patronizing native medicine practitioners for ulcer pain and other health issues, and the health of myself and my family has greatly improved.
I have also started taking birth control after discussing it with my husband who now understands the need for us to plan our family for our family well-being.
I am always so delighted to attend my trainings and sharing views, experiences, and ideas with the other women during the sessions. I learn and receive a lot of encouragement from the other women in the program. We have established a strong friendship bond and express this by supporting others in our community in need of support. I and my Women for Women group sisters are supporting one of our community primary schools, where some of our children are enrolled, with four new school chairs because some pupils sit on the floor to learn and write due to insufficient chairs. The condition is not conducive for learning and can affect the children’s health in the long run. I am grateful for my sponsor’s support and the opportunity to learn and better my life, family, and my community.