By Njodzeka Danhatu
Some 21 women-groups in the Southwest Region have been trained and funded to continue with their cooperatives’ activities, in order to become self-reliant and improve on their business ventures.
This was during a seminar organised by Reach Out Cameroon, recently, at the Buea Art and Cultural Centre.
The workshop was held under the theme ‘‘Women for Business: Empowering a New Generation of Female Entrepreneurs in the Southwest Region’’. As a result, the Non-governmental Organisation handed to each group, mostly those from Fako, Meme and other Divisions, a sum of FCFA500,000 to financially empower them.
The money as stated, was given to the women in form of an internal loan scheme. With these, the entrepreneurs are intended to manage the budget to improve on their businesses – small farming schemes, hairdressing, designing, poultry farming, and host of others.
The funds are to be shared among group members who will then invest it in their various projects.
According to Reach Out’s Executive Director, Esther Omam, the NGO is out to support the underprivileged on health, human right issues, wealth creation and creating income-generating activities for women and youths. “We have been doing this since 1996. Reach Out has been empowering women throughout the Southwest Region and taking its examples out of the region for other women to emulate”. She said.
As fallout of the NGO’s humanitarian work, she added that the institution has women today, who, as a result of the Reach Out’s economic program, have grown in businesses to become self-reliant.
Some of these women testified that they have successfully established businesses, thanks to Reach Out. They say, they are now able to provide for their families, send their children to school and even have some money to lend people. The project has interviewed some successful women entrepreneurs, who shared their life stories, outlining their challenges and successes, and telling the other women, how such challenges can best be handled.
They now act as mentors to other women.
Meanwhile, the coordinator of the programme Bibiche Modjenpa, revealed that some issues have challenged them to carry out the project successfully. She explained that in the past, when the programme started, some women took the money and misused it without fulfilling the objectives of the funding.
However, some beneficiaries while showering praises on the NGO said, insecurity, due to the Anglophone crisis, limited capital and land procurement are some of the challenges they do encounter.
As a result, the foundation has assisted them to acquire legal cooperative documents, open bank accounts and seek funding. They have also been connected to potential partners and stakeholders who can assist the women to overcome their challenges.