Empowering Young Women Entrepreneurs in Mozambique

Both Ana Paula (24) and Rosinha (21) grew up in the same town of Chimoio — and in similar circumstances of economic hardship, negative gender norms, and domestic violence. But it was only a few months ago that they learned of each other’s existence and their common experiences, as a result of participating in Bantwana’s Siyakha Girls economic empowerment activity, implemented in collaboration with ANDA, a long-time local development partner.

Today, thanks to Siyakha’s unique and locally relevant blend of supportive soft skills development, hands-on vocational and work-readiness training, and consistent mentoring, both young women are not just friends — but dynamic business partners, looking towards a bright future.

“Siyakha training and life coaching improved my emotional intelligence and maturity and taught me to manage money,” Rosinha says. Ana Paula shares a similar view: “I have benefited immensely from financial and health literacy trainings I received during Siyakha and I feel much more empowered.”

But, even as they went through the foundational soft skills training, a vocational course of their choosing on hairstyling and salon management, and completed three-month apprenticeships at local salons, they still did not know of each other’s existence. Following graduation and completion of their apprenticeships, both Ana Paula and Rosinha dreamed of owning their own hair salon, where they could pursue their passion for hairstyling and earn a decent living. Initially unsure how to pursue and fund this dream, they communicated with their Siyakha-trained mentors — who proactively facilitated a connection between the two young women and encouraged them to join forces to open a neighborhood hair salon. This photo shows Rosinha (green shirt) and Ana Paula in the center, flanked by their proud Siyakha mentors.

Siyakha project staff supported the women to develop their business plan, and to find a space for their salon. The two were then provided with starter-kits for their salon. Today, their salon is open and bustling, and represents the determined young women’s “happy place” and a major achievement. The two well-trained stylists provide a wide range of in-demand services to local women and girls, including traditional hair braiding, and also sell a range of hair-care products. The salon is also quickly becoming a favorite of other Siyakha beneficiaries and mentors who want to support their fellow “Siyakha sisters.”

Although they acknowledge the need to make improvements and repairs to their modest salon, Ana Paula and Rosinha are confident of their success and enduring partnership.

Read additional Siyakha Girl stories here: