Adolescent Caregiver Becomes Successful Entrepreneur in Southern Nigeria

 {Photo credit: Augustine Igwe/MSH.}Elizabeth Osesi was an orphan, struggling to make ends meet, when CUBS helped her start her own business so she could earn an income to support herself and her brother.Photo credit: Augustine Igwe/MSH.

Elizabeth Osesi’s parents were peasant farmers in Delta State, Nigeria. Watching her mother and father struggle to meet their family’s basic needs, Elizabeth dreamt of finishing secondary school, learning a trade, and earning money to support her family. But, in 1999, Elizabeth’s father died and, five years later, her mother passed away as well.  Elizabeth, just 15 at the time, was left alone to care for herself and her younger brother.  When they could not pay the fees, the siblings were soon forced to leave school. 

Fortunately, in 2009, the PEPFAR-funded, USAID project, Community-Based Support for Orphans and Vulnerable Children (CUBS), began working in Elizabeth’s community. CUBS partnered with a community-based organization to identify vulnerable children and enroll them in a support program. Elizabeth and her brother received food, psychosocial support, and school fees through this program.

To improve Elizabeth’s ability to care for her brother, CUBS and the local organization provided counseling, health education, and skills training that taught her how to earn money and save for the future. With this new knowledge, Elizabeth’s dream of practicing a trade to support her family came true. CUBS and the local organization provided her with a sewing machine and generator so that Elizabeth could put her new economic skills to work by launching her own sewing business.

CUBS’ support, training, and equipment helped Elizabeth’s business flourish.  She now has two employees and earns 8,000 naira (US $50) per week. She meets her family’s basic needs and pays for her brother’s school fees and books.

Since the project began in 2009, CUBS has helped over 12,500 adolescent caregivers receive economic skills training and small business loans or in-kind donations. Led by Management Sciences for Health (MSH), the project is expanding these interventions by partnering with local training centers that offer professional education for adolescent caregivers and micro finance banks that provide small business loans. These interventions empower adolescent caregivers throughout Nigeria who, in turn, are equipped to provide care for over 40,000 orphans and vulnerable children.

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