CSO Ebola Response Taskforce Takes Entrepreneurship Training to Survivors

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The Civil Society Organization (CSO) Ebola Response Taskforce has begun giving training Ebola survivors in entrepreneurship in order to enable them operate and manage small business.

At the beginning of the initiative in Kakata, Margibi County on June 23, 2015, Oscar Bloh, the National Coordinator of the CSO Ebola Response Taskforce, recalled the suffering that survivors are experiencing as a result of stigma and that, predicated upon such a concern, the Taskforce negotiated with partners to provide funding to train and empower some Ebola survivors across the country.

He disclosed that they are beginning with the eight survivors from Bong County and are working in the tone of L$1 milion from which portion will be given survivors to start their small businesses while another portion will be deposited in the bank for future use.

According to Mr. Bloh, the portion to be deposited will still be in the names of the survivors, but will be managed to help improve their businesses when there occurs shortfall.

He warned them not to see the money expected to give them as money to address family problems or use for external purposes other than the business that they have to do.

Making remarks earlier, National Civil Society Council Chairperson, Frances Greaves, cautioned survivors and non-survivors to be careful as the virus still lingers in Guinea and Sierra Leone.

She said that survivors are undergoing stress because of stigma, which she noted is causing them to not be accepted, thus imposing hardship on them.

In that regard, she said, they as civil society group saw the need to help survivors begin a small business that will help address their social needs.

The entrepreneurship workshop for survivors includes lectures in Creating and Managing Small Businesses, Village Saving Clubs and Business Marketing.

In one presentation, facilitator Joseph Howard of the Center for Justice and Peace Studies opened up by asking survivors to share their experiences in business, and the participants all alluded that they have some experience in making business.

Emphasizing the need to manage a small business for long term sustainability, Mr. Howard stressed that the business money is not meant to cater for family welfare in the home or to credit out to people, but to be saved to grow the business.

He urged the participants to keep record of their business, illustrating, “Take a stone and place it in a box to represent profit you make in a day and count same after some days. When you use any amount from the profit, get out a stone. Also, use your left hand to represent what comes into the business and the right to represent what goes out since the right hand spends much.”

By keeping record, Mr. Howard said they will know how the business is progressing or declining, warning that they should always avoid situations that will strangulate the business.

Mr. Bloh was quick to inform participants that civil society was not forcing them to make business but should decide what best they can do with the money to be given them for sustainability.

Another presenter, Josephine J. Nagbe, National Chairperson of the Village Saving and Loan Association, urged participants to be conscious of customer service and learn to save their money.

She also urged them not to concentrate on one commodity in making business, but a variety of commodities that will dictate customers’ preferences.

In separate interviews, survivors explained in one accord how they were earlier stigmatized and are beginning to receive reception from community members, confident that they will be able to succeed in making the businesses they wish to manage.

Each survivor will be taking with him/her LD$25,000 to begin the small business.

The project is supported by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) and implemented by NAYMOTE and CSO Ebola Response Taskforce under the theme, “Creating opportunity to restore dignity for Ebola survivors.

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