270 Gombe IDPs Head to Financial Freedom, Kick off Small Businesses

On August 30, two hundred and seventy refugees, and vulnerable host community members in Gombe State, received starter-kits to kick off their small-scale businesses as a means to financial independence.

The kits given to the IDPs were part of the UNCHR/AUN Livelihood Intervention program, aimed at reintegrating and giving the victims of eight years of Boko Haram insurgency a means of survival as they settle into host communities.

Gombe, a state that was indirectly affected by the attacks, is now home to IDPs from the border states of Yobe, Borno, and Adamawa and is overstretched economically.  Nearly all the IDPs in Gombe live with the host communities, says a recent report released by DTM Round XVII Report - June 2017.  

To alleviate the hardship and relieve the host communities, the UNHCR/ AUN stepped into five local governments--Yamaltu, Funakaye, Nafada, Kaltungo, and Gombe--to support a total of 1, 000 beneficiaries, mostly IDPs.  The level of income or lack of household heads determined their level of vulnerability for the host community beneficiaries.

Two hundred seventy beneficiaries were given tailoring machines, baking accessories, soap making materials, and a groundnut oil-processing machine.  They were also grouped into 6-10 to form cooperatives.

Fifty-year-old Yagana Audu from Gwoza, Borno State, said she never thought she could summon the courage to do anything after she lost her only two sons to Boko Haram in 2014.
Now, surrounded by women at the training center, some working on their cut out pieces ready to be sewn, others sitting on the floor in groups chattering, Ms. Yagana mounted her sewing machine to give a little demonstration of her newly acquired skills.  Afterwards, she held up a beautifully sewn African print blouse she had designed, to show off her creativity.

With the oppression rural women face and the limits placed on them, women are often consigned to giving birth and doing household chores.  Yagana said the skills acquisition training has empowered more women like her.  “We now have confidence,” she said.  “At least now I can make N500 or N1000 from making clothes for someone.  I can use the money to buy food and help my children.”

At the graduation ceremony, AUN Grant Administrator Audu Liman, full of excitement at the success of the skills and vocational training, urged the beneficiaries to utilize this unique opportunity and see this as a journey to their financial freedom.  He cautioned the beneficiaries to avoid mishandling or trading off the items given to them.  “Our field officers in Gombe will closely be monitoring all of you,” he said.

“It is the assistance of organizations like AUN that has helped us (UNHCR) spread aid across the world.  We are proud of AUN,” says the UNHCR representative, Prof. Banjo.

In addition, there to witness the occasion, the Permanent Secretary of the Gombe State Ministry of Women Affairs, Mrs. Laraba Kawu, was particularly pleased with the effectiveness and proven results from the project over a short period.  She was happy that the beneficiaries were also taught financial literacy skills to help them manage risks and savings in their businesses.

Ms. Yagana’s trainer, 32-year-old Hammaadama Isah Adamu, was at the graduation ceremony, cheering as he watched some of his students walk out to receive tailoring machines.  He said he was proud that within four weeks the women who came without experience are now proven fashion designers.

Mr. Hammaadama, who has fifteen years of experience, said he earns up to N50, 000 – N80, 000 a month from making clothes in Gombe, and that he hopes the beneficiaries will take seriously the business that sustains his family.

By Nelly Ating

American University of Nigeria
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