The Lives We Have Touched: Testimonials from 20 Project Participants

“I’m a resident of Huda Village in the Kardi community of Birnin Kebbi LGA of Kebbi State. I am a father of 11 and a community bicycle repairer. Before the intervention, my farming scope was less than a hectare of groundnut with a yield of two to three bags of 100kg (owing to crude farming methods). In 2015, I joined a Producer Group and participated in a three-year Best Agronomic Practices and SMART Skills training where I received training on better, smart approaches to farming. Two years later, it is no longer business as usual. I have recorded successes – in terms of better farming approaches and improved yields: the use of improved varieties of groundnut and the adoption of other best practices have resulted in a 133% increase in yield from 3 bags to 7 bags. I used to farm less than a hectare of groundnut which always gave me two to three bags of 100kg. After I attended the training, I realized many mistakes in my local practice and now things have changed. With this output, I have decided to concentrate more on groundnut production. My farm size has increased by 200% (from about 1 hectare to 3 hectares); I recently also bought a working bull and water-pumping machine for irrigation.”

Mallam Umaru Aliyu Huda

"Before the intervention of the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) and their technical partners, Diamond Development Initiatives (DDI), living through each day was difficult for us because we lived in abject poverty. Through this support, we received cash loans, and training on good agricultural practices, fertilizers as well as agrochemicals. Each member of my cooperative received up to fifty bags of fertilizers over this period. As a result of the intervention, I was able to increase my farm size from one hectare to five hectares. With the cash loan of N200k which I invested in trading building materials, I have been able to raise a working capital of over N1 million. This intervention has brought a significant change to my life; I can now pay my children’s school fees with ease. We live comfortably."

Alhaji Yusuf Garba, Kaduna State

"We have been experiencing energy problems in my community. We seldom have power supply; sometimes for months, we only get electricity supply two or three times, with outrageous bills – sometimes up to NGN 11k. As a result of the poor energy access, we were forced to close business activities as early as 6:00 pm daily which always led to reduced returns. I was tired of the setback this was causing to my business, so I started looking for a solution. In the process, I got introduced to Salfa Energy Limited and their solar energy solutions. From that point, things changed. With the solar solution, we now have power supply every day, without problems for the past two years now. I no longer pay as high as NGN 11k for energy bills. This has helped save some money for my business. Secondly, I can also stay as long as I want at my shop; I start the business day at 6:00 am and close by 10:00 pm. This further translates into growth for my business. As a satisfied beneficiary of this solar solution, I didn't want to enjoy this alone so I have introduced this good thing to many of my friends, relatives, and neighbors over here."

Miss Iyang Akpabio, Akwa Ibom State

"With support from the USADF and DDI, I was trained in modern farming techniques. With this training, my yield has increased thereby earning me more income. With the increased income, I have been able to sponsor my children to institutions of higher learning, and two of them have graduated from the University, while the third will graduate soon. I now have farmland of my own and my farming activities have improved, with increased yield. I have also been able to increase my family house by building additional four rooms – it is now at the roofing stage"

Jibrin Muhammad

"Becoming a creative designer has always been my passion. It has nothing to do with my educational background, because in 2017, I obtained a B.Sc in Economics from Obafemi Awolowo University, and in 2018 I completed my National Youth Service Corp program. After then, I got a job with a bank which I did for about seven months and then resigned because I wanted a place where I could develop myself in creative design. So I was without a job for a while, which means I was not earning any income, but I was looking for an opportunity to get trained. I found a lot of platforms but the cost was a major challenge, they were so high and I couldn’t afford them conveniently. At some point when I raised some money, I had to choose between paying for a course or getting a laptop, and of course, I wouldn’t go into a creative design course without a laptop, so I got the laptop. I was surfing the internet one day and stumbled on the news of the USADF-LSETF Employability Scheme on the @DDINigeria social media page. I didn’t think it would come free of charge, but I gave it a shot. After a while, I got a call to come for an interview; after the process, I was posted to Nerds Factory for a six-week intensive course on graphics and product design. Sincerely, this course has changed my life, it was the period I actually found myself and gained my ground because I have always wanted to do design but I didn’t know how to maximize that potential. But here, I met people of like mind and those who had gone ahead and were so ready to hold my hands through every step along the way. The fun part of the whole process was being paid to learn after that, the Nerds Factory ensured that we were placed for internship. After three months of internship, I got a job with the portfolio I had built through the training. I can say categorically that what I earn now is about three (3) times bigger than what I was earning while I was in the banking sector. Many thanks to DDI for sharing and being an active part of this opportunity."

Oluwadamilola Ayomidera Ajayi, USADF-LSETF Employability Program Graduate

"I have been a small-scale farmer. My proceeds were usually very little, just sufficient to feed my family. Becoming a member of this cooperative society, and thereby a beneficiary of the USADF grant has benefitted me a lot. Through the intervention of USADF and technical assistance from DDI, I received cash loans, agricultural inputs, and training on improved modern farming methods. With the cash loan, I increased the size of my farm and started a side business. As a result, the yield from my farm has tripled, my business has grown to the extent that I am now an employer of labor, and I have also been able to send my younger brother to school. I am so happy and thankful."

Lawal Suleiman, Kaduna State

"I own and manage Chrismen Investments, located in the Etinan community. We are into wholesale and retailing of all kinds of drinks. In this community, the power situation is very unreliable. We do not get electricity supply for weeks and when we do, it is usually at unreasonable hours; late at night when it is almost not useful. Sometimes we have to leave our homes very late to turn on the fridge at the shop which is unsafe. It is also challenging early in the mornings and evenings because everywhere is usually dark. Also, when it rains and we have to shut the windows, the whole place becomes dark and hot. I was introduced to Salpha Energy Solar products, and I decided to give them a trial. Ever since I got the product, I have not had issues with darkness, heat, and cooling of my drinks as I used to."

Itoro Iyang, Etinan LGA, Akwa Ibom State

"Before I joined this group that was supported by USADF, I cultivated a small portion on my husband’s farm. When I joined the group, I received support in the form of fertilizers, seeds and agrochemicals, and other inputs. I started with half a hectare, and further upscaled to one and a half hectares. As my farm size increased, my yield also increased, resulting in increased income. With this, I was able to pay my children’s school fees and settle all the medical bills of my children. I am grateful to the USADF and DDI for this intervention."

Halima Ladan Yahaya

"I am an Automotive Entrepreneur, and I am currently a 400-level Mass Communication student at the National Open University of Nigeria. Being a handy person, my mother had me registered in an automotive training center, where I learned for two years until 2020 when Covid-19 struck and economic activities had to shut down. Because I couldn’t continue going to work, I delved into the tech space, and through a friend, I got to know about the USADF-LSETF training and I applied immediately. I was called for the interview; I got trained and it was a structured training carried out by experienced professionals, and it was an eye-opener for me. The training was not streamlined to fixing cars only, we were also trained on the business and customer relationship and management aspects of the automotive industry. One very fascinating thing about the training was that we were given stipends to cover our lunch and transportation, monthly. This made the process easier. The training has made me more confident. I am now a certified auto technician. And with this knowledge, apart from working and earning a living, I want to impact people as much as I have been impacted, and so far, I have been able to mentor 10 girls who are interested in the automotive industry. Many thanks to the United States African Development Foundation (USADF), Lagos State Employability Trust Fund (LSETF), Diamond Development Initiatives (DDI), and Autogig for this impact."

Tosin Okeowo, USADF-LSETF Employability Program Graduate

"After I lost my husband, my children dropped out of school, because I couldn’t afford their school fees. We could barely feed well; if things were good, we managed to have two square meals a day. As a member of the Anguwan Akawu Cooperative Society, I benefited from the intervention of the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) and Diamond Development Initiatives (DDI). I received a cash loan which I invested in goat and cow fattening. I started with a she-goat which I bought at the cost of N25k. She produced two more the following year. So, I sold the three and bought a cow at the cost of N100k. I fattened the cow, then sold it and bought two calves. With the agricultural inputs and training provided, my farm yield has increased from three bags per season to 15 bags. Now; my children and I can feed well. They have returned to school too. Recently, I raised money and purchased a sewing machine, with which I make clothes for sale. My family is sincerely grateful for this intervention."

Hadiza Halilui, Kaduna State

"I’m a beautician: I’m into pedicures and manicures as well as hair-dressing and the likes. As a beautician, I depend so much on power supply to satisfy my customers. But here in Etinan, the power supply is extremely poor. I spend so much money fueling my generator so that I can satisfy my customers. Hence, I decided to look for a solution, and in the process, I learned about Salpha Energy Limited Solar products. I bought into it and since I started using solar energy, I have seen a lot of changes. I am able to serve my customers better. I no longer get worked up by the fuel issues. I have my shop well-lit and ventilated every time. And I am able to save a lot of money too."

Micheal Daniel, Akwa Ibom State

"I have always had a passion for western education, so my parents sponsored me to O levels, then I got married. I still longed to continue my education but there was no money. So I remained in my husband’s house and started sewing clothes; I’d collect advance payment from customers to buy materials and receive my balance later, just to have a source of income. When the United States African Development Foundation (USADF) came, I received agricultural inputs and training on good and Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) from their technical partners - Diamond Development Initiatives (DDI), and a cash loan. I started farming with agricultural inputs and also began petty trading with a cash loan. My business has so grown, I currently have a working capital of NGN 150K. This helped me raise funds to go back to school, and I have successfully bagged a National Certificate in Education (NCE). May God bless the USADF, DDI and Anguwan Akawu Cooperative Society."

Habibah Mansur Balarabe, Kaduna State

"I’m a fashion designer. My business relies heavily on power supply – for ironing, cutting, and sewing, as I use an electric sewing machine. I have seen a significant increase in my income as a result of connecting to Salpha Energy Solar power. Before I got connected, I was earning a monthly income of about 240 USD. But after the connection, my income has doubled, as I now earn over 480 USD monthly. This is due to prolonged working hours as a result of access to reliable electricity and a reduction in overhead costs. I was spending about 35 to 40 USD monthly on kerosene, charcoal, and petrol, and an additional amount on generator repairs. All that has stopped and now contributing to my monthly earnings."

Victor Igbewe, Off-Grid Energy Project Beneficiary, Ikot-Abasi Itam, Akwa Ibom State

"I had the opportunity of embarking on a commercial medical outreach in this community – and I discovered that this community where I have decided to live – is suffering from basic amenities – a situation that is not favorable to good medical healthcare. But I took the risk and still came to this community, but there was a bigger challenge – access to reliable electricity. I learned that over 10 years ago, electric poles were brought to this village, and community members thought they would soon be connected to the national grid. Years later, the poles started falling off, and they never got connected. So, I started looking for a solution. First, I bought a lister generator to power the place. It looked like I had found a solution but one day, some of my equipment got burnt due to a power surge. It was during my search for a solution that I came across this solar power system supported by USADF. So I was lucky to have come across the support from USADF – it came at the right time. But my fear was that it would be very expensive only to discover that with the support from USADF, it was actually affordable and meant for communities that are not connected to the national grid. Since I have been using it, my medical diagnostic business – a business that relies on a constant power supply – has improved, not just in terms of increased income, but also in the quality of the test results from my lab. Now I can always run my culture and sensitivity test with efficient results, and my equipment is no longer getting burnt. I’m very grateful for this support."

Moses Azariah Wetley, Barkin Ciyawa Lu’ukwoo, Qua’an Pan, Plateau State

"I am a graduate of Electrical Electronics Engineering, from the University of Lagos. For six months after my National Youth Service, I was jobless and living with my parents. Getting a job in Lagos was difficult. I was rejected by most of the organizations I applied because I only had theoretical knowledge of the job. So I started searching for a platform to acquire a skill in the electrical profession. I stumbled upon the USADF-LSETF Employability Program on Twitter; I applied and got called for an interview. And was offered the training opportunity at BOSCH ULDA, as my training center. I was trained in electrical installations and design, solar systems, and inverter techniques, as well as the installation and maintenance of air conditioning. This training was exactly what I needed to make me marketable and employable; it was very detailed practical and impactful yet with so much ease; I had enough allowance to absorb what I had been taught and received a monthly stipend to cover my internet subscription and transportation during the course of the training. I can proudly say that I am now a complete engineer, and I can do what I have been taught with minimal or no error. I want to say a massive thank you to the United States African Development Foundation (USADF), Lagos State Employability Trust Fund (LSETF), and Diamond Development Initiatives (DDI) for this opportunity"

Joseph Iferi-Ebin

"I am the secretary of Ikara Noma da Kiwo Multipurpose Cooperative Society. Before I joined the group, I didn’t know how to farm, as I was only accompanying my husband to the farm and doing nothing. But when I joined the group, I was taught how to farm via the Good Agronomic Practices training. In my first year of farming, I recorded a yield more than that of my husband. This was a great achievement for me as we also had enough food for the household. Now, we can hire some farmhands to work on our farms as we have now increased our farm size. Our family’s income has increased so much that we are now able to finance our children's education. All these were made possible because of the support received from USADF and DDI. We are grateful."

Justina Ishaya

"The rate of unemployment and poverty was biting hard on the youths of this nation, especially during the pandemic and I was not exempted. Even though I was working as a commission-based marketer in an insurance company, my income was less than $1 per day. I am a 2016 Mass Communications graduate. I have always wanted to learn interior decoration and design. But the prices for the training were outrageous. When I heard about the USADF-LSETF Employability Program, which was a response to youth unemployment and poverty, I immediately applied and was selected without knowing anybody, and attached to a vocational center. Due to the pandemic, we were provided data support to access the internet during the online training. Aside from the interior design training, we were also equipped with soft skills and business management skills. Immediately after the training, I was placed on a three-month paid internship and I was employed by the same company afterward. As a result of this training, I now have a better job, I also have a side hustle with the skills I received during the training. Now my monthly income has increased by over fifty percent. The trainers were wonderful, responsive, and reliable, and have remained so even after the training. I am now bold enough to meet with clients and seal up deals. Thanks to the United States African Development Foundation (USADF), Lagos State Employability Trust Fund (LSETF), and Diamond Development Initiative (DDI) for changing the narrative for young people in Lagos State in terms of skill training and employability enhancement.”

Bukola Oke

"Before the intervention of USADF, I could only cultivate half a hectare of land. We used the traditional method of farming without any formal education. We just adopted the methods our parents taught us. When we joined Ikara Noma da Kiwo Multipurpose Cooperative Society 10 years ago, we received financial support as well as input such as fertilizers, seeds, and agrochemicals from the USADF. We were also supported with good agricultural practices training as well as processing equipment which enabled us to process our farm produce to meet international standards. Also with the support, we were provided with a warehouse and a solar milling machine powered by solar panels. With this, we have been able to mill our grains anytime we want. With this support, I have increased my farm size, leading to increased income and with that, I have been able to set up a shop where I sell maize, guinea corn, and some groceries. Words cannot express my happiness and gratitude to the USADF for its support and the technical support from DDI."

Isah Ahmad

"With my qualifications, I felt it would be easy to get the jobs I was applying for, which was not the case. So I kept saying that this country was bad. Later on, I realized that I wasn’t equipped with the required skills for those positions. So I decided to go back to learning because it is never too late to learn. So I learned about the USADF-LSETF Employability Program through my sister and I quickly applied. I got a call to come for an interview, and after the necessary screenings, I received a message saying that I was selected for the training. I received weekly stipends as provisions for internet subscriptions for the virtual training. This made it easier because finance would have been a major challenge as well. All I needed to do was make myself available. At the end of the training, I was placed on a paid internship where I gained more practical experience in the field. With my experience so far, I can fix a room seamlessly. I want to continue in this line and build on this skill and be a good ambassador for this program. I also seek to create a platform where I can impact others. With this, I want to say a big thank you to the United States African Development Foundation (USADF), Lagos State Employability Trust Fund (LSETF), and Diamond Development Initiative (DDI) for this platform."

Ijede Mekezo

"I own a provision shop. Since I came to this community, I have never experienced a steady power supply. Sometimes four months go by without electricity, so I use candles. And when the candle goes off, I close for the day and go home because of the darkness. At the end of the month, I’d make a profit of about NGN 5K. But in September 2021, I was introduced to solar energy. I paid for the installation and from then I started spending longer hours in the shop which helped me to make more sales and by that increased my income. Now my monthly income has increased from about NGN 5K to about 10 to 15k per month because of access to power supply."

Mrs. Okon, Off-Grid Energy Beneficiary, Akwa Ibom State

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