I was born and raised in Maiduguri, the capital city of Borno’s state in Northeast Nigeria and now the hotbed of Boko Haram terrorist insurgency. Following my graduation and the compulsory national service in 2004, I started my tailoring business in my father’s garage, after unsuccessfully searching for a salaried job.
The business was going quite well, until the year 2010, when things changed, and insecurity took over the state. What we thought was just a protest had taken another form, keeping us up at night. We lived in daily fear, not sure if we will see the next day. There was a decline in business, and it was all about survival We always had to be on alert and ready to run because you could be indoors and not aware every one outside has fled as a result of the terror. It got worse and worse. During these years we experienced great loss, physical and psychological trauma from terror and economic set back. The number of displaced widows, orphans and widowers are in their hundreds of thousands, with no means of livelihood.
I was barely surviving until 2013 when I came in contact with the training organized by the Wolverhampton University at the University of Maiduguri. The focus of the training was to help women and youth to become sustainable entreprenuers by initiating and developing their own business plans using locally sourced materials.
For me it was a dream come true. Today, this training has made a great impact on my life, business and Borno state. I have gained confidence and acquired new skills to conduct my business with better efficiency and productivity. In the midst of the insurgency, I have now trained over a thousand women and youth in entrepreneurship. I have an Afrowestern clothing line by name DT stitches which has gained international recognition this year in Malta (Please visit my website, www.dtstitches.com)
I hope my story can inspire others. Women in Maiduguri are going through a lot as a result of the insurgency. However, with the intervention of the Centre for African Entrepreneurship and Leadership (CAEL) working in partnership with the University of Maiduguri, many are finding their feet through entrepreneurship. With further support, a lot more can be done.