From Survivors to Business Owners: UNDP Provides Livelihood Skills and Start-up Kits to Vulnerable Women and Girls

May 24, 2023

Women in Nigeria make up about 49 percent of the population with a high potential to contribute to the economic growth of the country. Despite women making half of the population, Nigeria still has the lowest number of women represented in political positions and only 20 percent of women own enterprises.  Despite these disparities, the country has made great strides in closing the gender gap. However, a lot needs to be done to grant women access to skills, knowledge and access to funding to start small businesses that sustain their livelihoods.  

To ensure that women are self-sustained, UNDP Nigeria has been providing support to women but particularly women living with disabilities (PLWD) to reduce their susceptibility to Gender Based Violence (GBV). Through the Spotlight Initiative livelihood pathway programme which includes financial literacy, business registration, seed grants, and start-up kits to empower beneficiaries from individuals to small business owners.

As of to date, over 288 vulnerable women and girls who are survivors of GBV graduated from the UNDP-supported livelihood pathway integration program in Abuja and Lagos with seed grants and start-up kits to help them get started.

Real stories of Beneficiaries

Fibi: A Dream Come True

Chef Fibi

Happiness: Lifetime Opportunity

Happiness is an 18-year-old orphan who lost her mother when she was 14 years old. Following her mother’s death, her uncles tried to marry her off to an older man, but she fled her hometown of Kaduna to avoid being married off as a child bride. 


She sought employment to survive, but then she was sexually abused and molested by her boss's brother. The National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) rescued her after she made a desperate call for help on a radio programme (Night Joli) on Wazobia FM. She was given shelter and went through extensive therapy for the trauma and depression caused by her ordeal. "That was a difficult time for me; I was going through a lot of traumas, and I was depressed” says Happiness.


Happiness benefited from the fashion design training. "I've always wanted to learn how to sew. I am grateful for the training because it allowed me to channel my attention away from other concerns. Whenever I am sewing on the machine, I am always happy”. 


"I am not waiting for a shop; I have already begun sewing and selling dresses at National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons (NAPTIP) and my shelter. I'm now teaching some of the shelter girls how to sew." Happiness plans to open a shop, expand the business, and sponsor herself through school. 



Iyabo Michael: A new beginning

For women like Iyabo, having a livelihood leads on a path to hope. She describes the opportunity as a “big and new beginning”. 

Iyabo is a single mother of two young daughters with sickle cell disease, unable to provide for them and pay for their health care. Iyabo sought help from the National Human Rights Commission to help her with means to help meet her children's welfare and health care. The NHRC provided her with the opportunity of livelihood training.

"I enjoyed my training, I met other women who had experienced violence, and we found a support system for each other, and with the start-up kit, I am ready to go big."

With the training from the livelihood programme, Iyabo can now put her acquired hairdressing skills to use and earn a living to provide for her children.

Iyabo Michael


About the Project

The Spotlight Initiative Project is a partnership between the European Union and the United Nations and is the flagship project on the elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls in Nigeria. It brings in a unique approach to addressing social protection intervention from a gender and human rights perspective.

UNDP Nigeria, in collaboration with other UN Agencies, currently implements the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative on Ending Violence against Women and Girls (EVAWGs) with an aim to support a Nigeria where all women and girls, particularly the most vulnerable, live a life free from all forms of violence and harmful practices.