Why Little Things Count: The Impact of Giving Back to Rural Women
By Azeez Disu
Blessing Abayi, a single mother from Bauchi used to struggle with paying her children’s school fees but that is now in the past, thanks to the support she received from a brand to scale up her business.
“The free goods and training we received today will be particularly helpful in taking our businesses to the next level,’’ Mrs. Clementina Irandi, one of the beneficiaries of Nestlé Empowering Rural Women in Nigeria Project from FCT disclosed.
Similarly, Mrs. Peace Eze, from Obolo-Afor in Enugu State, said “With the help of the goods that Nestlé is also giving to us, I have everything I need to make my business succeed”
On her part, Folasade Ogunjimi of Save Way Stores Sagamu, Ogun State said “This is the first time a company is bringing this amazing initiative to retailers in Sagamu in my 25 years of running this business. We sincerely appreciate this well-planned and considerate gesture by Nestlé towards supporting and expanding our businesses.”
Blessing, Clementina, Peace, Folasade, and Chidinma are among the many Nigerian women who have benefited from the Nestlé Empowering Rural Women in Nigeria Project.
Through the initiative, Nestlé Nigeria has helped 332 women to scale up their businesses by 300%, supporting them to improve their livelihoods and that of their families. The beneficiaries are women within Nestlé Nigeria’s value chain, running small businesses in rural areas across Nigeria.
Impact of Empowering Women
FINCA Co-Founder John Hatch once said, “It has been proven time after time that increasing the incomes of poor mothers results in an almost immediate improvement in their children’s diet, and an increased likelihood that they can send their children to school. And when a child is educated, he or she has better opportunities to live outside of poverty.”
According to Statista, in 2022, an estimated population of 88.4 million people in Nigeria lived in extreme poverty, the majority in rural areas. The count of people living on less than 1.90 U.S. dollars a day in rural regions reached nearly 75 million, while around 13.5 million extremely poor people were located in urban areas.
In essence, empowering women play a critical role in alleviating poverty in rural areas and indeed the country at large. Studies have shown that in the poorest households, women are often the family’s primary source of income.
It is believed that when brands or governments empower women they are able to not only support their family but also expand their businesses, employ others, and contribute to the growth of their communities.
The Nestlé Empowering Rural Women in Nigeria Project is one of the Company’s Creating Shared Value (CSV) initiatives to contribute toward building thriving communities by improving livelihoods. Launched in August 2021, the project is also aimed at helping rural women retailers within the company’s value chain scale up their businesses to increase their household incomes, and 300 women are expected to be empowered across states and regions of the country.
Nestlé is basically helping women to scale up their retail businesses through training, mentorship, and grants in the form of Nestlé products.
At the induction of the thirty-two new beneficiaries in Ikorodu recently, Nestlé Nigeria’s Commercial Manager, Mr. Khaled Ramadan said, “We are pleased with the success of the 250 beneficiaries of Nestlé Empowering Rural Women in Nigeria and are delighted by the opportunity to include 32 more today. With this addition, 282 women across five geopolitical zones of Nigeria now have a unique opportunity to scale up their businesses by 300%. We are confident that the new beneficiaries will also transform their businesses, making the best use of the support Nestlé is providing through training, mentorship, and grants in form of Nestlé products.”
In addition, Mr. Phranklin Audu, Head, Partnerships & Training at FDConsults, implementation partner of Nestlé Empowering Rural Women in Nigeria Project pointed out, “As an NGO focused on empowering people to improve their livelihoods, we are thrilled by the impact of this project on rural communities. Over 80% of the beneficiaries have seen their incomes grow and can support their families better.’’
On her part, Mrs. Victoria Uwadoka of the Corporate Communications Nestle explained that “Nestle Nigeria expects that the business owners will leverage the improvement to better their standards of living, including food, shelter and the education of their children.’’
Mentorship in business is critical to survival; it helps the mentees to avoid some mistakes that might cause revenue loss or other challenges. Beyond training, implementing what has been learned is also challenging for all genders including women.
Balancing personal life and career or work is another challenge for most women despite their multitasking qualities but the system of mentoring, training, and retraining from the stables of Nestlé does the magic for the empowered women to stay focused on their business goals and keenly watch their business grow.