Photo showing UNDP Gender Specialist-Kadiatu Bachalle Taylor interacting with women traders at the Jendema Border. Photo Credit: @UNDP/Sulaiman Jalloh.

Recent joint mission to the Jendema Border led by UNDP Deputy Resident Representative- Rokya Ye Dieng and Mano River Union (MRU) Secretary General-Madinah Wesseh found some of our trainees have formed business groups that are leaping into various business ideas. 

“After the UNDP/MRU training in Bo, we were able to form five business groups on five different business ideas that range from producing beautiful woven fabrics through weaving to rice farming on a 4 hectares of farm land provided by the community,” says Isata Famule, Chairlady, Women’s of Mano River Organisation.

In January this year, UNDP partnered with Mano River Union (MRU) to train over 40 women traders from 3 border communities (Kambia, Koindu, and Jendema) on financial literacy skills in Bo District in order to build up their skills and their knowledge in understanding their market and to make better decisions; equip them (women traders) with the knowledge and tools needed to make informed decisions critical for a successful business.

The trainings were also designed for these communities recognizing the shared need to empower women traders in border communities who mostly are the financial head of their households while at the same time, fostering cross border security that particularly paves ways for a smoother response in the fight against Covid-19.

Six month later and even during a global pandemic, these women have shown how resilient they are; mustering their network of financially trained business women who would leverage on their own resources to expand on their businesses and are already cascading the financial literacy training to other women from other border communities who could not be at the Training of Trainers (TOT).

“we re-examined the border market after the training and identify skills within ourselves which we could pull together and invest our personal resources. Now the story is changing,” says Bintu Swarray- Secretary of Women’s of Mano River Organisation at Jendema.

Many if not all these women were involved in other types of informal/petty trading between Liberia and Sierra Leone. However, Covid-19 and it attendants effects are now being mitigated, thanks to UNDP/MRU jointly implemented financial literacy training which has made a glaring recourse that these women traders could still make income and cater for their local markets using a new model of doing business.

“Initially, farming was just a hobby for most of us. Everyone was doing yard farming and wasn’t constantly practiced. The newly formed Agriculture group is headed by one experienced female farmer and our new knowledge in understanding market demand is now leading us into collective farming. Consequently, we hope our new farming model would attract more support and make us a major rice producer at the border communities and Pujehun District,” Isata Famule further informed. 

Photo showing women traders (UNDP/MRU) trainees on their rice farm at Jendema Border. Photo Credit: @UNDP/Sulaiman Jalloh.
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