Image of two women carrying seafood with a piece of fencing.

Empowering Mothers .

Nigerian mothers increase their income, grow their businesses, and improve their family’s health through livelihood and nutrition training.

Like many countries in West Africa, Nigeria faces the dual challenges of poverty and food insecurity. Not content to let their families fall into these traps, women in Nigeria are taking charge to pull their families out of poverty and are investing in their family’s health through best nutrition practices.​​

Before her husband’s death, Hajia Rabi Garba did not need to worry about her family’s financial needs. After he passed away, Garba was left to provide for herself and six children. As much as she tried, she could not meet the needs of her children or the orphans under her care. Her entrepreneurial efforts yielded little income, and food for her family was scarce.

Garba was among the parents who took livelihood and nutrition training in Sokoto State provided by the USAID Maximizing Agricultural Revenue and Key Enterprises in Targeted States (MARKETS) project. She learned how to start and sustain a business, add value to it, increase her savings, grow nutritious crops, diversify her family’s diet, make improved nutritional choices on a limited budget, and raise small livestock to supplement her family’s diet and income. She also learned the benefits of improved hygiene and exclusive breastfeeding.


women in Nigeria trained by Women Gender Developers

Putting her new skills into practice, Garba conducted market research to assess her community’s needs. As a result of her research, she found that there was still unmet demand for kwilikwi, a popular snack cookies made from groundnuts. She increased her production of kwilikwi — a business she had begun before the training — and increased her extraction of groundnut oil, allowing her to sell more.

Garba’s income rose significantly just a few weeks after the training. Her sales increased by 180 percent, from 700 naira ($4.67) per day to 1,960 naira ($13) per day. Garba keeps a record of her business finances and maintains a separate business account that has helped her to monitor her income and expenditures. She has also expanded her homestead vegetable garden, which has improved the quantity and quality of her family’s diet while reducing her family’s food costs. As a result of her improved sales and reduced food costs, Garba has increased her savings four-fold, from $1 per week to $5.30. She reports that her children are now sick less often and she is better able to pay for educational expenses.

“I’m telling you, this program has really changed the communities. They pay their house rent. Their children go to school. They own their own businesses. They (women) have no fear in them, they say their mind.”

Hajia Halima Bello, Executive Director for WOGEND

Similarly, the Women Gender Developers (WOGEND) has trained more than 900 women on developing a product, keeping business records, saving the earnings, and reinvesting in their small businesses. This training, coupled with nutrition and healthful cooking, has increased the women’s incomes and improved household nutrition.

Executive director for WOGEND in Kano, Hajia Halima Bello, has seen first-hand how MARKETS’ training is empowering women and communities. “I’m telling you, this program has really changed the communities. They pay their house rent. Their children go to school. They own their own businesses. They (women) have no fear in them, they say their mind.”

The MARKETS project, now in its second iteration, works with women like Garba and organizations like WOGEND to address food insecurity in Nigeria. As of December 2012, the project had trained more than 140 female groups and 48,000 women in 12 states across Nigeria using a curriculum that integrates household economic strengthening through enterprise skills and household asset management, as well as nutrition best practices and homestead gardening.