• Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Grooming Centre’s storytelling of impact – Women’s success stories well told

Grooming Centre’s storytelling of impact – Women’s success stories well told

Grooming Centre (Grooming People for Better Livelihood Centre), an NGO offering microfinance assistance to Nigerian women that have been engaged in small and medium-scale enterprise, has curiously chosen to tell the women’s success stories instead of theirs.

They have chosen to tell the stories of 30 women captured in a 132-page book, entitled: Stories of Impact – Real Women, Real Lives, Real Impact. The women are of “different backgrounds and varying levels of formal education, but they are all business-savvy and hard-working.”The NGO publishes the stories of these 30 women “who, in their own everyday way, are visionaries chasing dreams, building businesses, and changing lives— their own lives and those of others.” They have accessed microcredit from Grooming Centre and have been successful at their businesses.

That Grooming Centre has chosen to tell the stories of these women than theirs is revolutionary. In these days of brand storytelling, in the maze of the numerous microfinance institutions (MFIs) offering lending services in Nigeria, Grooming Centre has chosen a path different from the crowd, and a very effective one at that.

But let us not dwell so much on the branding concept than the stories that these women have to tell. Some of these women have been accessing financial services from Grooming Centre since 2006. 700,000 women who have done so thus far. It is Grooming Centre’s fine way of promoting financial inclusion among women in the lowest rung of the income bracket.

The preface of the book informs us that “their stories highlight the impact of micro-finance in realising and fulfilling potential. In this book, as they recount the paths they have journeyed in business, one cannot help but salute their courage, resilience, grit, and skill. Many of them share insights into the peculiarities of living and working in Nigeria, what it takes to be successful in business, and how they balance work and family.”

Here is a snapshot of some of the stories:

Ifeoma Nwaeje

Ifeoma Nwaeje, Provision Store Owner/Omuma, Abia State

“In 2015, my mother, Alice Ogbonna, introduced me to Grooming’s loans. I looked into what she said and discovered that it made sense, so I quickly joined her in accessing the loans. When I joined, my first loan amount was N50,000. I added it to the money I already had set aside for my business. When I started getting loans from Grooming, more business connections and opportunities came my way. The loans have assisted the growth of my business; it helps my business round the clock. If it was not a profitable venture, I would have stopped collecting more loans.”

Adetola Ariyo

Adetola Ariyo, Fashion Designer / Ipaja, Lagos

“Before I got married, I was an Aluminium Technician. I could drill and fabricate and I would climb heights to do it, but when I got married my husband said I could not do a job that wouldn’t leave time for the family. Instead, I learnt how to make Adire and I really liked it. That is what I was doing for years till my husband died suddenly.His family came in and took all our property. The cars, the house. All of a sudden, I could not train my children anymore. They told me to go away, that they would call me back after sometime, but they never did. When my first child got admission to the university, I asked if he would go and learn tailoring or barbing instead since I could not afford to pay his fees. One of my younger sisters told me not to do so; she told me about Grooming. At first, I was afraid because I had heard that microfinance companies can be tough when trying to recover their loans but to God be the glory this has never been my experience. I always repay. If not for Grooming, some people would have passed away because of the burden of responsibility.With the first loan, I traded and made profit. My child had to wait a year before I could finally pay his fees. Since then, when I finish repaying a loan, I take another. I do not have to beg at all. In fact, later on, Grooming told me to start taking the monthly loans and I started. They even gave me a phone and that really helped my business. With it, I would take photos of my designs and share it and people would order more. My son is now a graduate and my daughter is in 200 level. To God be the glory, my children got university education.”

Rebecca Afolabi

Rebecca Afolabi, Bag-Maker/Olodo, Oyo State

“I am a Grooming member and I thank God that since I started with them, there has been no trouble. God has made it easy for me, and the work I do has been growing. There has been no setback and it is easy for me to pay. The benefits I get are many and I cannot hide it. I was selling engine oil out of a small shop before then and I thought I should add a skilled trade to it so I learnt how to make bags, but I didn’t have money to buy a machine until my friend introduced me to Grooming.My first machine was bought with a Grooming loan, and it was easy to repay. Then I got the second machine, and then I got the third. My apprentices use the other two machines, and we sew bags for school children and for ceremony souvenirs. When people see my work and my phone number on the bags I’ve made, they call me to order bags.”

The book, Stories of Impact – Real Women, Real Lives, Real Impact, will be launched in Lagos on 28 April 2022.

Kofoworola is a branding consultant and lives in Lagos.