When We Empower Teenage Girls...We Raise Young Entrepreneurs

Aramide Oikelome
Posted July 27, 2019 from Nigeria
Their first day with head-bands and fascinators
Our first day of training with Nana teaching the girls how to make rag-mat with loom and pieces of fabrics (1/9)

When over 20 of our girls graduated from secondary school in May 2919, I was worried about what next to do? My concern was not baseless. Ijegun is one under-resourced community where you can hardly find things to get youths gainfully engaged. It is a dry community with lots of youths extremely sexually active but idle when it comes to purposeful living.

In finding solution, I created a whatsapp group to discuss with some of our volunteers and we resolved to initiate a one-month skill acquisition program and get trainers to teach our girls.

The first meeting held on 6th June with 22 girls enrolled. We were very strict about the rules and regulations- punctuality, regular attendance, active participation, creativity etc.

We were also encouraged by the passion and commitment displayed by the girls. The training soon turned out to be a life-saver; a treasured platform to learn new skills, kill boredom, have meaningful interaction with peers, get empowered and start their own small scale business.  

We were honored to have Aunty Wemimo (a.k.a Nana) kick start the training for us. Using pieces of clothes from tailors and used Ankara fabrics from our various homes, she taught us how to make rag mats, foot mats, table mats, flower verse, wrist bangles, wall flower etc. The first one week was dedicated to all these. It was an intensive training and the girls proved equal to the task. They were dedicated and determined to learn.

The thrilling part is that making all these does not require heavy capital. All that is needed are pieces of clothes and the loom made by the carpenter.

From Rag-Mats to Fascinators & Caps

By the second week of training, the girls had moved on to learning how to make head-bands, caps and fascinators. Interestingly, this is a trending innovation and is often used at worship centers, be it churches, mosques and everywhere. Expectedly, there is a ready market too; with potential customers waiting to buy.

And so, Aunty Mary from Ejigbo drilled the girls, taking them through the process of making fascinators, caps and head-bands which can readily be sold. Of course they were super excited to learn and practice their hands at making these.

All Hands Had To Be On Deck

It didn't take long for our girls to swing into action. They were too excited to let this moment slip by. As far as they were concerned, this was a life-time opportunity. They trekked long distance each day to and fro our training centre at Ijegun.

In the words of Esther, the training is a major breakthrough because there is no way her mother would have been able to afford paying for her to enroll in a vocational training school. So, having this platform to acquire skills free of charge is nothing short of a miracle.

Many of the girls testified that the program has made them to stand out amongst their peers back home because it has added great value to their lives.  They also expressed profound appreciation to our organization, mentors and trainers.

From Fascinators To Beads

Another vocation that caught our fancy was beads-making. And not only did our girls make necklace, they also make earring, wrist-watch and bangles from beads as we provided cash for materials. I was not perfect at first but with every passing day they mastered the act.

Of course it didn’t take long before they gained mastery here. Some even went as far as using Ankara fabrics to make beads necklace, earrings and rings.

And Here Comes Our Beautiful Products!

Within the space of 5 weeks, the girls had gained mastery in making beads, fascinators, caps, flower-verse, foot-mats, wristbands, brooch and much more. As the training session drew to a close, they wouldn’t let me be- they needed money to make products towards their graduation ceremony.

And so I had to make fund available. It was small money but it was so amazing to see how well they utilized it. The tables were filled with beautiful items.  

The graduation ceremony was splendid. It held during our monthly mentoring session and had in attendance over 150 girls, 63 boys and 20 adults. Some of the mothers also came to felicitate with their graduating daughters. Although some of the girls would not pull through because they didn’t meet up with our criteria, 16 out of the 22 finally graduated on 13th July and were all awarded certificates.

The best three also got start up funds to begin their own businesses.

And Here Comes Our Young Entrepreneurs!

The cash presentation held three days later in our office at Ijegun. Sophie Okojie came 1st, Esther Olulode 2nd and Blessing Chukwu 3rd.  While these got cash prices, others also got consolation prices and were also encouraged to make products and sell.

I couldn’t make it to the event but our community volunteer, my friend and secondary schoolmate Mrs. Feyikemi Job-Akinremi made the presentation on my behalf.

Interestingly, the girls have started getting orders and selling their products in exchange for money. In the words of Blessing Chukwu, “Now I don’t have to bother my parents for every little thing. Now, I have a skill with which to earn money when I get to the university. I am empowered now and I am so grateful.”

It’s such a joy to know that both the awardee and every other girl that participated in the training have already started to earn money from the sales of their products- Ankara wristbands, Caps, Fascinators, Earrings, Necklace and many more. I am super-excited! This is so inspiring; so encouraging too!




Comments 13

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Jill Langhus
Jul 28
Jul 28

Hi Aramide,

Thanks for sharing these lovely and inspiring photos, and your program, too! It's great to see their lovely, and joyful faces. Will they will joining World Pulse, especially the winners? I would love to see their stories, and what they end up doing and also where they're selling their products? What is Ankara, by the way? I was wondering.

Are you planning on having another program like this for girls? And how many of them plan on starting their own businesses, or have already, or are going to university:-)

Hope you're doing well, and having a great Sunday, dear!

Jul 28
Jul 28

Wow, this is so am amazing project. These youth are our future leaders. And with entrepreneur ship skills there are good to go.
The door mat are also easily sold in Africa, together with soap making and batik tie and dye are amazing projects. Congratulations and have a nice weekend.

Jul 29
Jul 29

Hello Aramide,
Thank you so much for such beautiful pictures and article. For a truth, an empwered woman is a great assert to her self, her family and community. Thank you for seeing this and taking the move to not only empowere but also to help these young ones have an edutaining holidays.

Keep it going.

Hello, Aramide,

Congratulations for training young women to be entrepreneurs! That is indeed empowering.

Congratulations to the winners, too. Wow! This is such an inspiring post. Thank you for sharing and keep up the great initiative!

Beth Lacey
Jul 29
Jul 29

Such a success! What a happy outcome!

Urmila Chanam
Aug 04
Aug 04

Dear Aramide,
Such a powerful message. Indeed when we build girls and women, we build enterpreneurs and changemakers because women have been the victim of our situations and with awareness, skills and a learning supportive environemnt we can rise to realise our position as equals. Thanks for your wonderful work.
Urmila Chanam,

Aug 27
Aug 27

My favorite part of this story is that the girls feel they are more independent and have gained a skill. Will you be enrolling more girls to learn these skills? If so, I' love to hear how it turns out! -- Laura

Aug 27
Aug 27

Hi Armide, A truly inspiring story not only about the personal journey and success of the girls acquiring new skills, but about the dedication, commitment and personal focus you gave as your gift to others. It is often easy to remain focussed on oneself especially with so many challenges that are faced every day, so I will take personal inspiration from how you act in the interest of others. I am truly humbled, look forward to reading about more success and personal journeys.

Cathy Goodman
Aug 27
Aug 27

Thank you Aramide - what you are doing is changing lives and I hope it inspires others to do similar projects. Really impressed with your initiative to set this up and the commitment that the girls have shown in completing the training and the beautiful products they are creating. Keep doing what you are doing! x

Katrien Nachtergaele

Well done Aramide for giving these girls the chance to learn. We need more opportunities for girls and women to develop and help each other.

Aug 27
Aug 27

Hi Aramide,
Thank you for sharing this wonderful story. It is so important for girls and women to feel economic empowerment and that starts with the confidence of knowing a skill. The confidence that they have in themselves spreads across all facets of their lives. Developing the skill set to be an entrepreneur is amazing. You have touched so many lives with your efforts!

Aug 27
Aug 27

Thank you Aramide for sharing this story. I have no formal higher-education either and with a passion and desire to learn - you can achieve anything! It is heartwarming to read of their successful journey and I sincerely wish them all the success in their future entrepreneurial journeys.

Alex Staufacar
Aug 27
Aug 27

Great job Aramide! It's really important that women understand the important role they play at the world economy! Keep on growing!