These are the beneficiaries of the Economic Empower for Education project that BSFA trustees met in Yaounde on 28th January 2023.
Meriline is 35 years old. She came to Yaounde three years ago with her children aged 13, 10 and 6. She used to live in Kumbo and said she had seen so many terrible things that she could not stay. Her husband abandoned her and took another wife but she had an auntie who lived in Yaounde so she chose to come there rather than Bafoussam or Douala – but her auntie had died when she got there. She found it very tough at first and didn’t have the money to pay her children’s school fees and hardly had enough to feed them.
She met with SHUMAS staff on December 9th 2022 and was taken on to the 3E two-day training course, which she loved.
“It changed me. It made me so strong. If I had to move to another country now and didn’t speak the language it wouldn’t matter, I feel so strong”
Her start-up materials were large containers of Palm Oil which she decants into litre bottles which she sells at a profit of 3,000 – 5,000 depending on the fluctuating cost. She is able to pay the rent (15,000 pm) on her one-room home and pay her children’s school fees. She says her landlord is a good man and lets her owe rent if the school fees are due. She occasionally is able to save 1000 CFA in her Credit Union account and saves 5,000 every 2 weeks at her women’s savings group.
Virginia is Meriline’s sister and came to Yaounde after Meriline made the move. She has two children, aged 10 and 4. Following the SHUMAS training she was given start-up materials of corn, beans, maggi seasoning and gari. The corn and beans are very popular and she is able to save in 2 different djangis (Women’s savings group). She saves 1-2000 in the small one and 5,000 p.w in the big one. The one-room home she rents for 15,000 p.m is almost 1 Km away from her stall so she treks most mornings carrying her foodstuffs but sometimes takes a bike taxi home in the evening. She would like to expand her business into selling Palm Oil too.
Collette moved to Yaounde from Kumbo three years ago with her husband, three children and her brother to escape the violence. She says that anglophone’s in the city prefer food grown in the northwest so she sources her foodstuffs from there as she can get a better price for it. This allows her to pay school fees for the two children that are in school. After her training with SHUMAS she received gari, beans, corn and Maggi seasoning to set up her stall. She has now included Huckleberry, a very popular green vegetable and re- orders her gari, corn and huckleberry from the northwest because the quality is better and she has a ready market amongst the anglophones.
Violette came from Kumbo in 2019 with her husband and four children who are all in school. Her husband works as a bike taxi driver but it’s not been possible for him to do this work in Yaounde so he has returned to Bamenda. Her eldest child wants to continue his education at professional school but the fees are 300,000 CFA per annum and she cannot afford them yet. In 2022 she became president of the local women’s group and they tried to set up a business with fouls and pigs however the animals became sick and died. She completed the SHUMAS training in 2022 and she has been able to pass on this training to the women in her group. She is currently selling cleaning materials and makes enough to send her other children to school.
Clarisse came from Kumbo five years ago. She used to be a hairdresser when she used to be in Kumbo but when she arrived in Yaounde she did babysitting work. She has five children and four of them are now back in Kumbo being looked after by her mother. Clarisse took the SHUMAS training in December and received packs of mesh hair to start her business. Unfortunately trade is very slow in January because people don’t have spare money after Christmas but on days like women’s day, teacher’s day and labour day she is very busy. A packet of mesh costs 1,900 CFA and she can sell it for 2,200 CFA. She rents a small shack for 15,000 CFA per month and pays school fees for her youngest child at nursery.
Eva marie came from Bamenda in 2017 with her husband who is a builder and her two children aged 13 and 17. She’s a hardworking woman who runs two businesses, she does housework in the morning and in the afternoon sells food at her stall. Following training her business was set up with salt, maggi, gari, onions, ginger and tomatoes. She hopes to expand her business to sell oil and soap as well. She pays the fees for her younger child to go to school and her older child is learning a trade as an electrician.
Sidonie moved to Yaounde from Jakiri with her husband and three children, aged 3, 6 and 2. Her husband drives a yellow taxi but only earns money for the family on one day in seven. Sidonie took the SHUMAS training course in December and now makes bedsheets which she packages and sells for 12,000 CFA, making a profit of 4,800 CFA for each set. She really enjoys the training course and she said she learnt things she never knew before. She also buys pairs of shoes from the market and makes a small profit on these.
There is a community of IDPs from the northwest that work closely together in the market. They’ve all completed the SHUMAS training and have been set up with foodstuffs to sell at their stalls. Currently huckleberry is extremely popular and a best seller. Geroline, Geraldine and Emelinda are all from Kumbo, they all have children of school age and are now able to pay their children’s fees. Alimatu comes from Ndu and Assanah comes from Jakiri. All these women enjoyed the training and happily work together in the market area. Fresh huckleberry is brought by bus from the northwest and is considered to be high quality by anglophone’s in the area and brings in a good price.
Mary from Kumbo and Comfort from Nkambe have both started small bars where they sell palm wine and corn beer. Both received other foodstuffs from SHUMAS following the training course and still stock these items but they have moved into making alcohol as a profitable sideline.
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