In the second edition of our Building Business Forward series, meet Joy — a food vendor from Kogi State, Nigeria. Joy used her Stronger Women, Stronger Nations program training to change the course of her business, start saving, and end conflicts in her household. She is a true woman with power, and we are so proud to share her story.
My name is John Joy, and I am a 39-year-old woman. I am part of the Igala ethnic group from the Ebaji Local Government Area of Kogi State, Nigeria. I come from a family of fourteen including my father, mother, and twelve children, and I am the eighth child. My mother died when I was only 10 years old and ever since then, my father assumed the role of both father and mother to us.
My father served in the military but later retired and began farming. During this time, he farmed for our survival. As much as he tried to help us continue our education, he could only sponsor my eldest brother beyond secondary school. In 2003, I decided to marry at the age of 21 to my husband John Monday Attah who is from the same local Government as me. I thought it was best for me at the time because I couldn’t further my education. Our marriage bore four children: my first son who is now 16-years-old, my 12-year-old daughter, my 8-year-old son, and my 5-year-old son.
My husband was a cook in a Chinese company until 2009 when the company closed. Similar to my father, we started farming to survive. I later started making and selling guinea-corn gruel, popular indigenous fermented food in Nigeria. I had no savings, and no plans either aside from making sure my children went to school amidst the quarrels I was having with my husband. I am hot-tempered, and it made matters worse for my situation.
Shortly before I joined my Women for Women International program, I began a house cleaning job. My husband, in a bid to hurt me, visited my employer’s house and raised dust until I lost the job. I was very angry, I cried, I cursed. This created a rift between my husband and me until I joined Women for Women International. I knew about WfWI from my neighbor who was part of the first cohort in our area. She shared the impact of her WfWI program with me, and how it helped both her home and business. This nursed my thoughts, and I became a participant in this noble program.
My WfWI program changed my life. Meeting my group sisters from different backgrounds taught me how to be tolerant. I was also taught how to resolve conflicts. This helped me tame my anger and not let it have a negative effect on me.
"Meeting my group sisters from different backgrounds taught me how to be tolerant. I was also taught how to resolve conflicts. "
I also invited my husband’s uncle to help resolve the differences between my husband and me. I started supporting and respecting my husband, thanking him for every little effort. This appreciation has been reciprocated.
I applied the knowledge I acquired in my business skills training to save and expand my business. I have added bread, buns, soft drinks, sachet water, and other foods to my business in addition to selling my guinea-corn gruel. I am even currently saving to rent a shop and increase my supplies, moving away from just selling on a tray.
"I am even currently saving to rent a shop and increase my supplies, moving away from just selling on a tray."
I am so grateful for the monthly stipend I get, it has really helped in growing my business. I am also very grateful to my sponsor whose help has contributed to making me a better woman.