"I Can Make It!": The Story of Bridget

 {Photo credit: Francis Duru/MSH.}After being widowed in 2008, CUBS helped Bridget Egesi start a pharmacy so she could earn an income to suport her five children.Photo credit: Francis Duru/MSH.

Forty-year-old Bridget Egesi has been the sole caretaker of her five children since her husband’s death in 2008. Until recently, Bridget pieced together an income by washing laundry, cleaning her neighbors’ cars, and working as a security guard. Unfortunately, these menial jobs did not always pay enough to provide for her children’s basic needs and Bridget had to withdraw them from school.

Led by Management Sciences for Health (MSH), the PEPFAR-funded, USAID project, Community-Based Support for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (CUBS) in Nigeria, began helping women understand how to better care for the children in their homes in 2012. Through workshops held in conjunction with community-based organizations, CUBS taught Bridget and 1,049 other caregivers about children’s health and emotional needs. Partnering with the Nigeria AIDS Intervention Organization, CUBS also taught the caregivers how to start a business, track their incomes and expenses, and regularly save.

Motivated by the training and mindful of her community’s needs and her experience as a nurse, Bridget decided to open a pharmacy. CUBS helped Bridget write a business plan and submit it to a village savings group called Esusu. Impressed with Bridget’s well-developed plan and budget, Esusu gave her a start-up loan of 40,000 naira (USD $250), with which she rented a building and obtained a pharmacy license.

Within 12 months, she had opened her pharmacy.

Bridget’s business now generates enough income for her to purchase adequate food and clothing for her children, and send all five to school. With a minimum daily profit of 3,000 naira (US $19), Bridget has been able repay 80 percent of her loan from Esusu.

“CUBS has made me realize that I can make it! The income-generating skills training I received helped me to save and plan properly for myself, my family, and business… [I’ve also learned to] build relationships with people who [can support] my vision and dreams,” said Bridget.

Since the project started in 2009, CUBS has worked with local organizations to provide income-generating skills training for 12,500 household heads. These caregivers now have improved skills and means to provide for the 40,000 orphans and vulnerable children in their care.

In preparation for the project’s conclusion in 2014, CUBS is partnering with training centers in each of the project-supported states to sustain and expand the caregiver trainings. CUBS is also working with two micro-finance banks that will continue providing loans to caregivers interested in opening or expanding small businesses.

A Nigeria AIDS Intervention Organization Program Officer contributed to this content.

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