Avatar of Selma : Get up, be brave and start your own business

Selma : Get up, be brave and start your own business


Selma is 34 years old, she is the mother of 5 children, 3 boys and 2 girls. Her husband is unemployed and they live in misery and despair. Selma arrived in this informal camp in 2006, she had never had the opportunity to go to school and of course had no vocational training.

When they were selected to join the FXBVillage program, the family received emergency nutritional support and help with their children’s schooling.

FXB and HISA have developed ten Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA, also known as saving groups) whose members together develop collective economic activities in the areas of poultry farming, laundry and dish soap making, organic horticulture, mat, basket and candle making, sewing and beading. These groups also help to create social ties, share challenges and solutions, and foster an entrepreneurial spirit.

Selma chose to join the sewing group where she received initial, then intermediate and finally advanced training. Her first objective was to dress her children. At first she made simple clothes and, as her training progressed, pants, shirts and traditional dresses. At the end of her studies, Selma received seed capital, which enabled her to acquire the necessary equipment to open a workshop. She worked tirelessly to build up a stock of clothing that she would be able to sell in her community.

When asked how she has the courage to go door-to-door selling clothes, she answers: “Hunger”.

Thanks to the income generated through her collective economic activities and her personal workshop, Selma has managed to save enough money to invest in a new business: her own clothing shop. Selma has achieved her goal of being able to feed, dress and take care of her children. Her next goal is to be able to properly stock her store.

Selma gives back to her community. She makes soup every Saturday, which she gives priority to the youngest and poorest children in the neighbourhood. She regularly tells her neighbours how the soup is made. That it is with the money she earned from running her own business. “Don’t sleep. Get up, be brave and start your own business. You can earn money and provide for your children. Your children don’t have to starve.”

Investing in women’s economic empowerment is the undeniable path to poverty eradication, gender equality and inclusive economic growth.