Church Group Empowers 40 Widows for Financial Independence

Uchechukwu Nnaike

A group, the Confraternity of Christian Mothers (CCM) of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Isolo, Lagos, recently rekindled some widows’ hope of survival, by empowering them with items to start up small scale businesses of their choice.

The start-up items include: sewing machines, grinding machines, gas cylinders and burners, cooking sets, beauty products, foodstuffs and beverages, among others.

The empowerment scheme started since 2009, and has touched the lives of many widows.

The coordinator of the empowerment scheme for 2024, Mother Esther Abua, said the annual initiative is intended to make widows in the church and its environs self-sufficient so as to take care of their children and other responsibilities, as well as to prevent them from seeking assistance in places where they might be taken advantage of.

To determine the 40 beneficiaries of this year’s empowerment programme, she said that a screening committee was set up to assess the widows’ needs, their skills and choice of business, and the items and equipment to start up the businesses were bought.

Apart from donation of items, Abua said the group also invited an entrepreneur and motivational speaker to talk to the widows on how to grow their businesses and succeed in their chosen venture. She said successful widows were invited to talk to them about self-respect

She said the committee sourced the funds from members of the church and raised about N6 million for the empowerment.

The President of CCM of the parish, Mrs. Carol Okwara expressed delight that in spite of the harsh economic situation in the country, well-meaning individuals and groups still contributed towards the success of the programme.

As a result of the good will and generous donations, she said the number of beneficiaries this year increased from the 29 that were empowered last year.

She urged to always be optimistic and be focused and make good use of the items provided.

Dr. Obiora Madu, an entrepreneur who gave the widows tips on how to be successful in business, said the loss of a partner is a challenge, and commended the CCM for the empowerment initiative.

To succeed, he stressed the need to understand one’s choice of business, and to try to meet the needs of members of the business location.

He stated that for such small businesses to succeed, the support of family members and friends is essential, adding that word of mouth helps to promote small businesses more, so they should always satisfy their customers to get good reviews.

Madu also emphasised record-keeping and the saving culture, saying that they should only spend some of their profit and re-invest the others.

The Parish Priest, Fr. Phillip Egbuniwe, thanked the parishioners who supported the idea and donated towards the scheme, adding that the programme is part of the mission of the parish since 2007 to make people self-sufficient, with the aim that “if you are helped, you help others.”

He commended the CCM for diligently carrying out their assignment of adding value to the lives of widows in the parish, and advised the beneficiaries to make good use of the opportunity.

One of the beneficiaries, Mrs. Nkechi Scott, who has been a widow for the past 13 years with four children, expressed delight at the opportunity. 

She said she had wanted to start a business after leaving her paid job, but lacked finances, but with the items and the business tips she has received, she would ensure that the business grows and flourishes.

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