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Making masks to earn a living – and to contain the pandemic

Cynthia is 31 years old and comes from the state of Edo in Nigeria. She studied medical biochemistry at the University of Benin (UNIBEN) and was looking for a permanent position when she graduated in 2012. Except for a few casual jobs, however, her search remained unsuccessful.

In April 2019, a friend referred Cynthia to the Nigerian-German Centre for Jobs, Migration and Reintegration (NGC) in Benin City. This centre provides the local population and returnees with support in job hunting or starting a business. It is run by the German Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). The centre is part of the "Perspektive Heimat" programme operated by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Support with breaking into the fashion industry

Cynthia was given advice on her career prospects at the NGC and awarded a place on a two-day "career path" training course. It was there she started learning about business management, explored her own strengths and interests, and finally decided to enter the fashion industry. She came up with a plan to create her own brand. “I've always been interested in fashion. The training made me realise I can run my own business."

Cynthia completed a three-month training course in textiles and fashion design in the autumn of 2019. The training was jointly organised by the NGC and an NGO called Genius Hub. Their aim is to provide training to help small businesses and individuals to be more successful. Like all training participants, Cynthia was then given her own sewing machine and was supported by the NGC in registering her company. It was a big success: her business got off to a great start thanks to the contacts Cynthia had made during the training course and thanks to referrals from customers. She would get new orders every single day.

She plans to open her own shop once the crisis is over

Cynthia experienced a slump in orders with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Fortunately for her, Genius Hub got in touch again to let her know that the state of Edo was seeking assistance with the production of face coverings. Along with other graduates from the training course, Cynthia instantly seized that opportunity. This meant she has secured herself an income in these difficult times. At the same time, she can also make a contribution to containing the pandemic.

"I'm so happy and grateful for this opportunity – especially at this time when so many people can't do their jobs. I will be working on this order from the state for the next six months, but I'm also continuing to run my fashion business – from home. I hope to be able to open my own shop once the crisis has eased."

As of: 07/2020

I'm so happy and grateful for this opportunity – especially at this time when so many people can't do their jobs.

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