Five years ago, I began the free Tosin turns trash to Treasure skill acquisition and Entrepreneurship programme for women empowerment, in riverside community called Ibasa located in Oriade council development area of Lagos. There was no funding, therefore, I decided to learn as many skills as possible so that I would not need to employ more hands. At the end of that year, I have become an expert in more than ten various skills. I learned tie and dye, batik, bag making, cooking bag making, shoe making, soap making etc.
We were able to replicate the training in other states in Nigeria, India and South Sudan. We have a criteria for our selection, only abused women. After the training, I discovered that the trainees were always happy during the programmes but afterwards, many of them became sad. I was troubled and began to ask why.... the answer was that many of our sisters could not take off after training them, most of them want to engage in other businesses, while some want to work with us, though not for for the free. I do not advise our graduates to work for free because many of them are single parents, widows or divorced.
The inability of our women to start up their businesses after the training causes sadness for me too, it was as if the programme has no impact. We were able to provide all the needed materials, yet these women will remain indoors after the beautiful opportunities we had given them, it's not good at all. So I began to think, looking for solutions to this problem, because it is a problem.
In 2016, I began the Treasure wall arts. To the glory of God, many of my sisters embraced the Art work, especially our global sisters. They love my work and they are willing to pay for it. The God - sent talent of creating artwork began to generate money and I realised that the money is the solution to our ptoblem-start up capital! Therefore, I made up my mind that, I will always support a sister with start up funds whenever I make a sale.
In 2017, within one year, I was able support four women with start up capitals. I work a lot with the social media and many of my Facebook sister's fell in love with the idea of start up grants for Women and they also began to support this dream.
So far, it has been so good. The more I support other women, the more more women online support my efforts, the ripple effects keep on slashing outside Ibasa riverside community. The most beautiful of the story is that of Maete, I was able to support her business with $500.00, I sold an elephant to a woman in the USA, I gave the whole money to Maete. She began to travel to Cotonou, Republic of Benin. My quilter friends online became her customers, she was shipping African fabrics to various countries, this year, she began to travel to Ghana. She expanded her business , and she was able to rent a beautiful house too.
The most amazing part of the story is that, Maete has given three women start up capitals too. One sells abacha, a local delicious food, another sells charcoal and the third one sells firewood. The more we lift up women, the more the empowered women empower other women.
In 2018, we partnered with a welder to build metal shops with recycled containers for us, its a $300.00 shop, mobile, fireproof and can withstand storm. It was a tall dream for us, because it's like a poor woman who wants to support poor women. But, with the support of my global sisters, I am rich in connection. So far, we have built three shops for women. We do not build shops alone, we also buy the goods for these women.
These little efforts have saved women from committing suicide, our support has rebuilt lives of women and transform existence. We do not just receive a pat in the back once in a while, we have been christened a new name, we are now known as; women who transform women. We have embraced a woman who attempted suicide and after counselling, she became a part of support, went back to school and she is on monthly support from a sister online. These 're just few of our sisters.
We are expanding our tentacles to accommodate more women everyday. Our next training starts next month in our new classroom built with the support from our Artworks and sisters love, we already have a list of more than forty applicants and its awesome to note that our graduates are now our trainers in Ibasa. When we support a woman, we support the nation.