Stories from EQWIP HUBs Zanzibar - Ayman
Before signing up with EQWIP HUBs’ training program, Ayman’s story was like many others youth in Zanzibar – one of frustration. Despite completing Secondary Education through the public-school system in Tanzania, there was a gap between the skills she had learned and those that employers were seeking. The story is a familiar one in Zanzibar, as only 17% of the workforce is employed by companies; most work in family-run businesses or operate their own businesses. While trying to decide what to do in the face of the daunting job market, Ayman was told about the training programs offered at EQWIP HUBs. Joining was a decision that has changed her.
Before she knew it, Ayman was enrolled in a hands-on 3-month Entrepreneurship program that taught her fundamentals of financial fitness, environmental sustainability, gender equality, and computer programming. And as her skill-set grew, so did her confidence. When only a few months before she would have been intimidated by large groups of people, Ayman was now proudly participating in group activities, and openly presenting to an audience about the details of a business idea she had – opening a henna shop.
While rare in Canada, henna—an intricate form of temporary body art—is a popular sign of self-expression in East Africa. Ayman had always had a passion for henna, and was now in a position to make it her living. Armed with a new-found understanding of entrepreneurship, Ayman applied for the second round of EQWIP HUBs’ Youth Innovation Fund – a foundation which provides small grants to outstanding business ideas among Zanzibari youth. Ayman was one of eleven successful applicant groups, and is now teamed up with a Canadian Volunteer who coaches her through the steps of starting and expanding her business. Ayman is now in the process of using the grant to purchase new tools and materials which she believes will help grow her henna shop.
Ayman hasn’t stopped there. In addition to training and the YIF offered by EQWIP HUBs, she has become very involved in her community. Ayman is a member of EQWIP HUBs Zanzibar’s Girls Club and the very active Vice-President of the EQWIP HUBs Zanzibar Alumni Association, two organizations of particular importance to her. Ayman also worked in collaboration with the Department of Youth Development of Zanzibar promoting and creating awareness about the EQWIP HUBs program throughout the seven districts of Unguja. She conducted a very successful radio interview for International Women Day, which attracted many young women to join EQWIP HUBs’ core training for the current cohort.
Ayman is a now a part of new generation of Zanzibari women who are challenging cultural norms and fighting discrimination. Using her tenacious attitude, and the confidence she has gained in the Entrepreneurship training program offered to youth at EQWIP HUBs, Ayman hopes to be part of a movement that makes Zanzibar more inclusive for all people.