Roumanantou Hama Souleymane is a young woman who lives on the outskirts of Agadez, a large city in central Niger, about three kilometres from the city centre. Roumanantou and her husband are both handicapped, greatly adding to the difficulty that members of their community can face in finding work and livelihood opportunities. Despite her challenges, Roumanantou found steady work as a tailor and seamstress in Agadez, but was among the small group of women in her community who were employed, or had any sort of income-generating activity. She dreamed of bringing the same opportunities that she had come to know to the women of her community.
YAWWA, implemented by SNV in Niger from October, 2014 to October, 2017, identified change-makers and social entrepreneurs like Roumanantou and supported them to scale up their enterprises. The project connected innovators and leaders with the knowledge, tools, and resources they needed to transform their localised civic activities into socially beneficial enterprises. YAWWA also worked to build a culture of entrepreneurship throughout Niger by connecting these young entrepreneurs to share ideas.
Roumanantou’s own path to social entrepreneurship began when studied sewing, embroidery, and tailoring through NIGETECH, a national NGO that conducts vocational training. After her training, she found work in a foyer in Agadez.
But Roumanantou’s employment was a rarity. Her community suffers from mass-unemployment that can be attributed to the general insecurity of its region. Women of her community especially have little possibility to earn additional incomes for their families.
Seeing how the lack of employment opportunities impacted women in her community, Roumanantou dreamed of opening a women’s centre in her community to create some of same opportunities that women might find in Agadez. She began saving what money she could, and eventually started construction on a small atelier.
When YAWWA began operating in her community, Roumanantou volunteered to become a Trainer of Trainers. YAWWA trained Roumanantou in social entrepreneurship, leadership, business plan development, and organisational planning, so she in turn could pass these skills on to others.
After working with YAWWA, Roumanantou decided to use the knowledge and skills she gained to transform her dream into a sustainable business by scaling up her women’s centre into a profitable social enterprise. After submitting her business plan to YAWWA, Roumanantou was selected to receive a grant from the project to turn her women’s centre into Foyer Féminin Tadress.
Foyer Féminin Tadress trains women in tailoring, sewing, and knitting. The skills that these women receive are invaluable in their own search for employment and livelihoods. Foyer Tadress then sells the items produced during the trainings. The revenue generated from these sales is invested back into Foyer Tadress, allowing the company to purchase the additional materials needed to train more women.
After their training, it is Roumanantou’s hope that these women will start their own small businesses, and bring even more economic opportunity to their community. She had originally planned to train 55 women at a time, but due to the high demand she has opened up additional training slots to accommodate the requests.
Roumanantou also uses Foyer Tadress to share important concepts related to women’s health, social entrepreneurship, leadership, and communication with the women that she trains.
With YAWWA’s support, Roumanantou was able to overcome her own personal obstacles to achieve her dream of bringing economic opportunity to the women of her low-income community. The skills and guidance that Roumanantou provides to these women will help bring economic development to their community for years to come.