Azumi is a 35-year-old businesswoman with four children and has never been to school. She has been processing peanuts into oil for the past fifteen years as a family business. In 2019, Azumi joined the Savings and Loans Group (SLG) in her community. She struggled to make ends meet and provide for her growing children. “Before the GALS1 training, I processed a bag each of rice and groundnuts daily but could not differentiate between the business capital and my profit. So, I ended up spending both the business capital and the profit I made, and this resulted in borrowing. My actions led to the total collapse of the business,” Azumi said.
In 2020, Azumi was among those selected to participate in the GALS in her community. Although GALS participants did not need to have a formal education, Azumi was required to hold a pencil, pen, and a book. It was the first time she ever had. “I never held a pencil or pen in my life before the training. I see my children using it at home. I was selected to participate in the GALS training through my daughter Ummi who participated in the MEDA-funded Life Skills Program for Girls in 2019. Surprisingly to me, I was given a book and different colors of pens to write. Honestly, I was so confused and got thinking of what to do with the items. I then decided to listen and paid attention to what the facilitator was saying and doing. She asked us to choose any symbol we could relate to and then draw it correctly. That was how I mapped out the vision for my business,” Azumi recalled.
The benefits from the GALS training are now clear for Azumi. She learned how to diversify, plan, and grow her business and now saves about 500 Naira on every market day. She uses her knowledge to process and trade soya beans. Her training has also yielded other benefits too. “From my savings, I purchased a plot of land for my children worth 40,000 Naira. Also, due to the general price hike of food crops this year, I made 21,000 Naira per bag of soy I bought for resale. I invested part of the profit buying a ram worth 28,000 Naira. I am wiser now, and I am waiting for the demand of the beans to rise before I sell,” Azumi said.
Azumi added that part of her goal is to educate her four children and buy a cow. Cattle are so profitable now when well-fed, a cow could go for up to 500,000 Naira. Like all businesses in Nigeria, the major challenge Azumi faces is inflation. The GALS training has motivated Azumi to plan her business and make intentional actions in her business that benefit her and her family. The Savings and Loans group has helped Azumi to improve her business capacity by investing part of her business profits in savings.
“The opportunities for me to keep exploring are SLG and also the available market,” Azumi reflected.