Chinyere Ejam is a 38-year-old widow and caregiver from Ntu community in Ngor-Orkpala LGA of Imo state. Chinyere and her 5 children (2 boys, 3 girls) were enrolled into LOPIN-2 OVC program in 2015. She was trained in financial literacy with the support of USAID-funded LOPIN-2 and was as well encouraged to join the Village Savings and Loans Association (VLSA) set up in her community by WEWE-LOPIN2. In addition, Chinyere was also trained in making chin-chin; a Nigerian fried tasty crunchy snack. Born to a poor and rural family, Chinyere had no formal education past primary school. She married young and had little prospect for good jobs, so feeding her five children after her husband’s death was quite difficult, and so is providing for their education. After the death of her husband in 2013 resulting from heart failure, the burden of caring for 5 children without any support was daunting so she made a decision to learn hairdressing with the hope to open her own salon and generate income to support herself and her children. Chinyere had no money to rent a shop in the community market so she used a small space in front of her family house as a salon shop but life was still difficult because she had no money to buy start-up equipment for the salon as a result, there was low patronage.
When the poorly equipped salon was not receiving good patronage to earn Chinyere enough income, she was afraid that her first daughter who is seventeen years of age would not be able to complete her secondary education. However, her fear left after she was trained on financial management and introduced to the savings group in her community.
She started saving from the little she was making and after a while, she was able to access loan from the savings group that helped her to equip her salon with necessary equipment and accessories. This boosted her salon patronage and increased her income. Today, she has been able to pay for her first daughter’s education through secondary school and her other children are also attending school.
When asked about what it feels like being a part of the LOPIN-2 program, Chinyere looked with a smile and said; “The program has been very rewarding…The VLSA is one of a kind…. the loan repayment does not give sleepless nights, unlike other savings group. LOPIN-2 has affected my life and that of my children positively. My business is enhanced thanks to USAID supported WEWE-LOPIN2. In fact, I am willing and happy to share this positivity with others so LOPIN2 should give me 10 vulnerable adolescent girls who I will train in hairdressing. I am grateful to USAID and WEWE LOPIN-2 for giving me assistance when I needed it most”.