Best Projects 2018 features all the nominated entries submitted to the Youth Citizen Entrepreneurship Competition under ‘Submit your Project’ category. All the entries consist of innovative projects run by existing enterprises in the form of businesses, NGOs or informal programs. If you want to know the 10 finalists in this category click HERE
Sheelda Rural Women's Empowerment Initiative
Explain your project in details:
Sheelda Enterprises is a small business that provides packaged agricultural food products, which are made by rural women under the project title Sheelda Rural Women's Empowerment Initiative. The project is aimed at providing economic opportunities to rural women in the Kidang-Marama district of Borno State, North Eastern Nigeria. The Boko Haram insurgency has largely affected the North Eastern region of Nigeria, leaving thousands displaced and poverty on the rise. During the time I worked with an INGO in Maiduguri, I witnessed firsthand the vulnerability of women in the crisis situation, which triggered the idea of this project. The primary focus of the initiative is to improve the overall quality of life of people in the rural communities, by addressing gender barriers as well as the deep rooted patriarchal attitudes and societal norms regarding women's rights to contribute meaningfully to the society. This in turn puts the women in a position to become drivers of economic growth and development, and subsequently eradicates poverty in the communities as well. The project engages the rural women in local food processing, which provides a familiar means of livelihood and socio-economic empowerment. The products which include 100% pure groundnut oil, kuli-kuli (peanut crackers), and yajin kuli-kuli (a grinded spice form of our kuli-kuli) which is used for eating local foods like suya, masa, local salad, and beans cake (akara), are all native. The most interesting aspect of this initiative is the simplicity of it all; involving rural women in production processes they already know how to do, to earn fair wages.
Impact of your enterprise on sustainable development
Rural areas are the backbone of Africas economies. According to a UN Women report, published on 13th March, 2018 -Women make up more than 50% of Africas population and 80% of them reside in rural areas. Women and girls living in the rural areas of Africa are endowed with innate skills, but face differing realities and challenges across the continent. They are faced with gender barriers, as well as deep rooted patriarchal attitudes and societal norms, which affects their ability to contribute meaningfully to the society. The Sheelda Rural Women Empowerment Initiative is dedicated to promoting the economic and socio-economic empowerment of rural women by engaging them in our production processes and paying them fair wages for their works, which provides a means of livelihood and financial empowerment to them. Sheelda Enterprises believes in each womans capacity to elevate herself out of poverty and provides her with an enabling environment to do so. As a result of being economically empowered, rural women: - Are enabled to provide a financial safety net for their families; - Contribute to household income & Increase family nutrition; - Promote education for their children; - Become powerful agents of transformation and contributing members of society, thus elevating the capacity and productivity of their communities and country as a whole.
Sustainability and future plans
The project is a profitable and sustainable approach that is inclusive and has better control being a private enterprise geared toward achieving sustainable development goal 1, 5, 8, and 11, especially SDG 5; gender equality and women empowerment. Our products are ethnic and have high market demand in the urban areas where they are sold. Hence, it is a profitable enterprise that can be self-sustained. During the project test-launch, the operating costs which comprises of expenses such as costs of raw materials, packaging, transportation cost, fair wages etc. amounted to N80,000 (to the nearest whole number). The products sold generated revenues up to N140, 000, which shows a high profit margin. Subsequently, with a larger volume of production the cost of operations will drastically reduce to allow for greater profits. Sustainability would be achieved from the sale of products processed from the initiative. Part of the profits will be pumped right back into the project, which will grow into a vast enterprise that can birth subsequent initiatives for other rural areas. Furthermore, a cooperative will be formed in the communities for the women, which would enable personal entrepreneurial growth for the beneficiaries. If successful, in five years our Project can be implemented across the region based on the local skills of the rural women. Our projections are that not less than 5000 rural women will be economically empowered by 2023. So far, Sheelda Rural Womens Empowerment Initiative has been a self-funded project from its inception. However, recently helpful financial support has been provided in the form of seed grants by basically two local NGOs, namely the Joan Agha Foundation and Samaritan Helps. Additionally, financial and moral support has been provided by family.
Your profile as an entrepreneur
Hyelni Hassan is a 34yr old woman from Borno State, North Eastern Nigeria. She is a development worker and the initiator of Sheelda Rural Women Empowerment Initiative. Hyelni is currently the CEO of Sheelda Enterprises, a social enterprise with a vision to create inclusive and sustainable wealth in Africa by providing women in rural areas with a means of livelihood to become drivers of economic growth. She holds an MSc in Project Management from Sheffield Hallam University in the UK; a trained Project Manager and a passionate social entrepreneur, mostly about women empowerment. As a project Manager, she has worked with a local NGO and two international NGOs in North Eastern Nigerian communities affected by insurgency; mainly managing projects centered on child protection and Gender Based Violence. Hyelni is a member of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) as well as a member of the African Women Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) Nigerian Chapter, and serves as the head for the North Central Zone Food Processing Cluster. In line with her passion, she champions the rural womens community development, and her social enterprise is aimed at promoting womens economic empowerment. Her personal vision is to create decent jobs for economically empowering African women, to enable them fend for their families and control their own destinies. Furthermore, her passion from the belief that by empowering a woman, the entire community is subsequently empowered; economically empowered women are socially empowered as well. They are more confident and can participate in the decisions concerning their children and their family. They can contribute in their childrens education, their communities, and the nation's development. Hyelni envisions a world where there are equal opportunities for everyone.