Towards Zero Hunger: Enterprising Skills Build Sustainable Livelihoods

woman preparing food

What does it mean to ‘enterprise your household’? For 420,000 households in Kebbi, Sokoto, and the Federal Capital Territory in Nigeria, it means learning how to be flexible, proactive, aware, and resilient.

Under the Feed the Future Nigeria Livelihoods Project, Making Cents International gave vulnerable women the tools and knowledge to generate more money for their households and make wise economic decisions for the benefit of their businesses and families. Making Cents designed and delivered “Enterprise Your Household” (EYH), a curriculum that teaches female householders in Nigeria the entrepreneurial and life skills needed for sustainable family livelihoods. Now, these women are providers and entrepreneurs.

Knowledge, skills, and experience: Maimuna and Hassan

Maimuna is unsure of her age but believes she is around 30 years old. A single mother, she supports eight children ranging in age from 6 to 17. Hassan is also a single mother, with eight children ages 6–20. In 2016, Hassan and Maimuna attended the EYH trainings with other women caregivers in their communities in Kebbi State. Both women applied their new skills to start or expand a business and provide food and income for their families.

Hassan learned how to secure capital to invest in her business. With a microfinance loan, she was able to buy a small mill to grind her own flour. She then began to offer her mill as a service to her community, with a profit of $2–$4 a day. Her growing business allowed her to provide food for herself and her eight children, send and keep her children in school, and serve as a role model in her community.

Maimuna used the knowledge she gained during an EYH training to care for her family of eight. As a result of the EYH curriculum, Maimuna was inspired to expand her business. Through her willingness to apply market research and investment skills she learned through the EYH training, she diversified her products, from a single product to several; she invested in livestock as part of the long-term savings plan she developed; and, for the first time, she had an economic plan for her future.

woman with cow and goat

Improved food security, greater income opportunity, long-term planning, and savings against future need and unforeseen challenges: these are the kinds of impacts a Making Cents customized curriculum, like EYH, can have on improving sustainable livelihoods for vulnerable households.

The EYH curriculum uses experiential learning techniques like image cards, props, and hands-on exercises to demonstrate concepts and ideas. Since many women in Kebbi, Sokoto, and the Federal Capital Territory have low levels of literacy, these kinds of tools facilitate the uptake and integration of information. EYH builds enterprising knowledge and techniques that help learners make wise business decisions. It also introduces key household enterprising concepts such as planning, money management, investing wisely, and expanding income generating opportunities.

Maimuna believes that, “In business, you need to focus on quality and provide the best product you can.” This means focusing on details such as clean packaging. Her next business venture is to raise more capital to buy a 50 kg bag of rice that she can use to cook rice and beans as a roadside meal at the marketplace. According to Hassan, “In the EYH curriculum I learned that if a plan fails I should not give up but adjust my plan and try again”. EYH gives women like Maimuna and Hassan the skills they need to build resilient, thriving households.

Learn more: Feed the Future Nigeria Livelihoods Project Video