For the past years, Cameroon has been faced with a couple of social, political, and security crises such as the Boko Haram insurgencies in the Far North region, the influx of refugees into the Adamawa and East regions, and most recently (since 2016) the ‘’Anglophone crisis” which has led to thousands deaths and displacements. While others have fled to neighboring Nigeria as refugees, some have moved to different towns of the country notably Douala, Bafoussam, and Yaoundé. Forcefully moving away from one’s home can be very challenging economically and psychologically. Moreover, these displaced people find it difficult for integrating themselves in new locations with little or no finances, source of income, and even socio-cultural and linguistic barriers. Women, girls, and children have been most affected by this sociopolitical crisis that has dragged on for four years. It is in this regard that BONET in partnership with SHE Platform came up with Project 50/50/50 to assists internally displaced women and girls by providing them with finances to fund new businesses and or boost existing ones.
The main objective of this project has been to guarantee a sustainable livelihood for 50 internally displaced women and girls and their families by boosting up (50) businesses or funding new businesses for them through a seed fund of 50 000 francs cfa (about $100). This capital is interest free and repayable in the most convenient way to the beneficiary. This financial package is preceded by intense training on business and entrepreneurship skills appropriate for these women and girls. BONET and She Platform strongly believe that it is an effective approach to facilitate the integration of these women and girls in their new areas of residence and most especially preparing them towards the post-conflict era in the North West and South West regions. Providing capital and business training to these women enables them to manage their businesses in a way that will generate more profits and in turn help them to provide for their families.
So far,this project has recorded a huge success with the first twenty women and girls who have benefited from it over the last 6 months (May-October 2020). According to one of the first beneficiaries of the Project by name Pascaline: ‘’Thanks to BONET and She Platform, I have learned a lot more about how to improve my business especially about diversification, savings, marketing, managing business with family members and friends. Every day, I’m able to provide three square meals for my family because of the profits I make from my business. I am really so happy and grateful for this initiative.’’
Several other beneficiaries continue to share their success stories as another lady into hairdressing exclaimed: ‘’I cannot express my joy and gratitude to have benefited from this project. I bought more products and had to rearrange my saloon since more customers were coming. I have also employed my sister and introduced manicure to the saloon so that we can make more money…’’
These testimonies abound and serve as clear evidence of the impact created by the project.
The project however is hampered by limited funding so far to continue especially with the second phase intended to raise the amount of grants per beneficiary to 100 00 francs cfa (about $200) as well as be able to replicate the project across the South, North West, Centre, Littoral and West regions that are all host to thousands of IDPs from the crisis-plagued regions. The impact of this project would further curb or prevent displaced women and girls from unhealthy practices such as sex for survival/prostitution, early marriages, sexual abuse, and economic violence.