How ILO helped a 21-yr old girl transform her life
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Ms Angel Banda attends to one of her customers in her salon in Kyela District, Mbeya Region. (Photo by Florence Mugarula)

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FOR a 21-year- old Angel Banda, the problem began with gender based violence. Few years after completing her secondary education, Ms Banda was forced to look for the job; she was only 18 by then.

After a long search, she was employed as a house-maid in Songea town. But things did not go down well, she decided to move to Kyela district, Mbeya region to search for greener pasture after experiencing gender-based violence in her home town.

“I decided to move to Kyela, but honestly, I had nothing to do, I was moving around just like any other girl who has lost direction,” she said. All is not lost As she moved around, Ms Banda joined other girls to form a group where they contributed 1000/- a week.

They were determined to join forces and use the money for both social and economic development. “Little as it was, we were determined, each member was supposed to contribute 1000/- every week.

It was challenging especially for us who did not have a job, but things went on just like that,” she narrates. According to Ms Banda, the group became the motivating factor for her and other girls to discuss their problems and figure out ways to fix them.

Good news Ms Banda said as they continue to hustle, they were informed of ILO loans through the district council. She said her group was among 12 groups that received ILO loans through the district council.

“Before receiving the loan, we received training on entrepreneurship skills, proper ways of establishing and doing business, developing capital and other risk behaviours so that we can understand our role and manage to at least accomplish our goals through the business by identifying potential areas for income generating activities,” she noted.

In March, 2017, the group, which comprised of eight members received 2.5m/- as a loan from ILO through the district council. Ms Banda was among beneficiaries and she managed to walk away with 320,000.

She said each member decided to start business of her choice. Ms Banda along with other girls and young women were brought together under the DREAMS initiatives.

They were mobilized to form a Worth groups and later trained on economic issues, gender and entrepreneurship skills and other risk behaviors so that they understand their roles.

The start of ‘Angel hair cutting salon’ Unlike what many expected to see from Ms Banda, the 21-year-old girl came up with a unique idea. She decided to open a hair-cutting salon. She says her friends laughed when she told them about her plans.

Seven months later, Ms Banda is the only young girl who runs men hair-cutting salon in Kyela ward – perhaps the only one in Kyela district and her friends are no longer laughing. Clients come from across the town. “I decided to open men hair-cutting salon after making a business survey on the matter.

I realised that with my 320,000/-, I could rent a room, buy hair-cutting machines, salon mirrors and chairs,” she said. According to Ms Banda, she employed Mr Justine Chepe to run the business and he pays her 5,000/- a day.

“After opening the salon, I entered into a contract with Mr Chepe, I handed the salon to him and he is paying me 5,000/- every day. And now everybody wants to learn how to cut hair,” she said with a warm laugh.

She added: “I thank God, as we speak right now, I make at least 150,000/- every month from this salon, it is a well paying business.” From 320,000/- the capital has been growing, Ms Banda said so far has at least 250,000/- in her bank account.

However, the courageous girl has been spending the cash on improving her ‘office’. “I have bought the Television set so that my customers could enjoy watching various programmes while waiting for their turn to cut hair, I have bought a sofa and also improved the floor with new and modern carpet.

Moreover, I have bought two new hair-cutting machines each at 50,000/-,” she said.

The sky is the limit Ms Banda is a perfect example for other girls across the country to learn from her. The 21-year-old girl says ‘the sky is the limit’. She is optimistic and focused to fulfill her dreams.

She told ‘the Daily News’ that her plan is to open other salons in various parts of Kyela district and Mbeya region at large. At the same time, Ms Banda is currently attending fashion designing and tailoring training course where she pays 15,000/- per month.

“My dream is to become a big fashion designer and an expert in dressing various people, and I am quite sure, my dreams will come true soon,” she said. Ms Banda said from her salon, she manages to pay fashion designing and tailoring training fee, and that she has already bought a sewing machine of her own.

How did the loan help her to avoid temptation and HIV/AIDS infections? Ms Banda said many girls fall into men’s traps because of extreme poverty. She said the ILO loan has helped her to establish her own business which keeps her busy from temptation.

She added that from her business, she manages to take care of herself and that there is no way a man can take her for advantage. “Honestly speaking, I have money, there is no man in this town who can use his money to fool me,” said the charming Banda.

She added: “Today, I know my health status and I understand how to protect myself from dangerous diseases including HIV/AIDS, this has been possible because of ILO and other organisations,” She added that her group and all girls who benefitted from the loan are very thankful to ILO, district council, Kiwohede, SAUTI, Jhpiego and all other organizations that support young girls in their struggles.

She advised other girls across the country to join into groups and seek loans from various organizations and financial institutions so that they can start businesses and stand on their own instead of depending on men and support from relatives. Ms Banda said under DREAMS initiatives, many girls benefit from the programme and that it is high time all girls and young women to use available opportunity to set up investments.

The DREAMS Initiative is an ambitious $385 million partnership to reduce HIV infection among adolescent girls and young women (AGYW) in HIV priority areas including Tanzania.

To date, Girls and young women account for over 70 percent of new HIV infections among adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa, and nearly 1,000 AGYW are infected with HIV every day.

The initiatives go beyond health to address economic opportunities as a key to reaching the Sustainable Development Goal of ending AIDS by 2030.

As part of the SAUTI Project portfolio, the economic strengthening intervention and revolving funds support for vulnerable adolescent girls and young women (VAGYW) is implemented by Jhpiego in partnership with Pact, EngenderHealth and Kyela District Council with Support from ILO and USAID through the U.S. Government’s PEPFAR under the DREAMS initiatives.

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