By Mariama B. Bah
The Mankind’s Activities for Development Accreditation Movement –Sierra Leone (MADAM-SL) with support from CARE-Sierra Leone has in a two day refreshers training engagement built the capacities and empowered women to become entrepreneurs in Bombali and Tonkolili Districts.
The training attracted two hundred and fifty (250) beneficiaries who are members of the Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs) across Bombali and Tonkolili Districts.
The training was facilitated by the Manager of the Safroko Limba Community Bank; Adamu Mohamed Adamu, VSLA Promoters and the project team from both MADAM-SL and CARE-Sierra Leone.
According to Muhammad Sahr Komba, the Women Empowerment and Business Development Project was initiated in 2015 and it is implemented by MADAM on behalf of CARE-SL. He said that the first phase of the project had ten thousand (10,000) beneficiaries across nine hundred (900) VSLAs in seven(7) chiefdoms in Bombali and Tonkolili districts were exclusively targeted.
Komba explained that now that they are into the second phase of implementation, they decided to shrink the number of beneficiaries to two thousand Five hundred (2,500) women through whom they are able to reach the remaining targets. Out of this number also, a sub group comprising two hundred and fifty (250) beneficiaries was developed and this group directly benefits from mentorship and coaching activities with the aim of giving them the required skills that will transform their small businesses into enterprises.
“This is one of the refreshers training MADAM is undertaking for all our VSLAs in the operational areas. This training will not last for the usual fifty two (52) weeks period we normally conduct for our beneficiaries. Rather, few modules have been selected to enhance the skills of our VSLAs including the village agents and promoters on how to develop their businesses into full scale enterprises” Komba said.
The Project Officer emphasized that the project has in no uncertain terms helped women in their communities adding that through their interventions, women can now boast of owning their own businesses through which they are not just able to sponsor their children’s education but they are now working hand in glove with their husbands to take care of their homes. Thus, they are serving as role models in their communities as they can now even boast of employing others within their localities.
The project also links beneficiaries with Community Banks and Financial Service Associations (FSAs) within their operational areas to access financial that will in return boost their businesses.
“The project has made women to be more productive and self-reliance in their communities. This, in itself, has reduced gender based violence and abuses in communities” Komba retorted.
Testifying how the project has transformed their lives, Yeabu Turay from Mapaki said that they have benefited immensely from the project as they can now afford to fund their children’s education, boost their farming activities, respond to emergencies, and establish businesses in their respective communities.