BENIN CITY, EDO STATE. At Pathfinders, we utilize a survivor centered and trauma informed approach in our work. To this end, it was imperative, as a result of the resulting lockdowns and curfews necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic and #EndSARS protests, to ensure that the minimum amount of trauma was sustained by our survivors, considering all that they have already been through. As most of our survivors work in the informal sector (on which their daily survival depends), our efforts have been geared towards assisting them in pivoting their small businesses to ensure that they continue to flourish during this time.
In addition to providing emotional support and counseling services, we have also assisted with strategic planning that has resulted in some of our survivors moving their businesses online or pivoting to provide mobile service or home deliveries. As part of this effort and with support from Action Aid Nigeria, we organized a skills training on November 20, 2020 for 40 of our survivors that centered around the importance of diversifying their businesses in order to remain relevant and to generate multiple streams of income.
Because we consistently endeavour to highlight and support our Pathfinders alumni, we retained former graduates from our program who are excelling with their small businesses as trainers for the November 20th training. At the training, survivors were instructed on how to produce various items which remain in high demand based on our market survey conducted in Edo. These items included hibiscus tea (colloquially known as Zobo), talcum powder, liquid soap, ice cream and perfume. The training was organized in such a way that survivors were able to rotate from group to group, participating in the production of at least two items. In addition, survivors received in-person instruction on how to market their goods online, particularly on social media platforms such as Whatsapp. They were also informed of strategic locations in Benin where they could potentially maximize profits via the sale of their goods.
Following the training, it was evident that our survivors were elated and excited about the prospect of diversifying their businesses to maximize profits. They were also very eager to sample their freshly produced products. It was also heartwarming to see our alumni trainers excited about the opportunity to “pay it forward” to others who had survived the same journey. Survivors received a token for their transport fare as were also treated to lunch.
As always, we will continue to follow up with our survivors to ensure that they are putting their newly developed and/or honed skills to good use, as we look excitedly towards our end of year celebration in December that will afford them the opportunity to showcase their finished products.
We are grateful to our partners at Action Aid Nigeria which made the training possible via its Women’s Voice and Leadership Project (with support from Global Affairs Canada).