From where I stand: “I feel like my life is headed somewhere”Bondu Salia, a single mother from Freetown, Sierra Leone with a high school diploma in Business Studies, used to struggle to provide a better life for her two children. She is one of 400 women who have set up their own small-scale businesses after receiving training through the 5by20 initiative, a partnership between UN Women and Coca Cola to empower 5 million women by 2020.
My husband left me for another woman after seven years of marriage. To make matters worse, his elder sister threw me and my children out of the family house during the rainy season. I found shelter at a friend’s house, until she too asked me to leave.
I began living in a tiny kiosk, which was so small that it could only accommodate me and my nine-year-old daughter. My 17-year-old son had to move into my sister’s house.
It was extremely difficult to make ends meet. Previously, I had worked as a secretary at an office, but I couldn’t manage the long hours after I had my children since there was no one else to care for them. I went into trading instead, selling pepper, onions, biscuits, sweets, coal, matches, and anything else I could find or make. Still, I couldn’t earn enough to provide food and clothing for my children, or an education.
One day, as I was sitting in front of my kiosk, frying pancakes to sell, a UN Women staff member asked for my telephone number. A few days later, I received a call inviting me to join a training programme at the Coca Cola Bottling Company. I completed the training, which taught me how to set up and manage a small-scale business, as well an array of other things, such as managing savings, keeping the environment clean and the rules and protocols of the Coca Cola company.
Afterwards, I was provided a cooler, a table, an umbrella, apron, and two crates of assorted soft drinks that I could sell. Now that I have drinks to accompany the food I sell, I have increased my profit margin, making up to USD 50 a week. I am now able to provide a good meal for my children, pay their school fees and even set aside some money as savings.
I feel like my life is headed somewhere.”
Bondu Salia, a single mother from Freetown, Sierra Leone with a high school diploma in Business Studies, struggled against all odds to provide a better life for her two children. She is among 400 women who have been trained to set up their own small-scale businesses as part of the UN Women-Coca Cola initiative, “5by20”, which aims to empower 5 million women in Africa by 2020. Salai’s story relates to Sustainable Development Goal 8, which promotes decent work for all and encourages entrepreneurship and growth of small and medium sized enterprises.
Read more stories in the “From where I stand...” editorial series.