Widows are one of the most vulnerable groups in Africa and are faced with a multiple of conflicting social challenges. One of the major challenges faced by widows in Sierra Leone is financial difficulty. In Sierra Leone, 85% of widows report a variety of financial problems. A large number of them experienced financial difficulties in meeting the basic needs of their children. The abuse of widows and their children constitute one of serious violation of human rights and obstacles to development today. Millions of the world’s widows endure extreme poverty, ostracism, violence, homelessness, ill health and discrimination in our societies.
They experienced financial and mental strains to maintain their previous standard of living, and the responsibility to pay back loans taken by their late husbands.
Across a wide spectrum of countries, religions and ethnic groups, a woman is left destitute when her husband dies. Poverty is often made worse by little or no access to credit or other economic resources, and by illiteracy or lack of education. Without education and training, widows cannot support themselves or their families. In several post-conflict and disaster situations, high numbers of children depend on widowed mothers – often aged women, sometimes children themselves – as their sole support. Many Widowed grandmothers are also left caring for orphaned and sick grandchildren.
Therefore, The Jamil and Nyanga Jaward Foundation, the only charity organisation in Sierra Leone that focuses on widows, has developed the “WIDOWS SMALL BUSINESS GRANT PROGRAMME” for vulnerable and economically challenged widows of the Ebola and Mudslide disasters, and widows of ex-servicemen, by providing them with a means of livelihood and restoring dignity to widows within the country. JNJF will train and equip 20 Ebola widows, 20 Mudslide Widows, and 20 Ex-Servicemen and other Widows with a Business Development Skills to successfully embark on a small scale entrepreneur activity for profit, maintain and grow the business to sustain their families, provide access to free start-up business items, kiosk construction, business registration and bank account opening for access to business growth financing. Also the project will provide a platform for promoting widows as relevant to nation building and active contributors to Sierra Leone’s GDP.
This project will also help to impact the community by providing goods and services for resident within the community, and also contributing to the socio-economic development of the community.
As a charitable Organisation and the only organisation that focuses on supporting and helping widows, we intend to implement this project nationwide. The sponsor or donor institution can suggest locations that they believe will enhance the visibility of their brand or Corporate Social Responsibility programme, or be more beneficial to the community.
It is critical to ensure the project continues after the initial funding, hence, the foundation will be working through its sponsors/partners directly, to provide training and oversight to ensure recipients are able to continue the business. Also, the foundation will train recipients on Business Development Skills to enable them to save to enhance business growth and sustainability.