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Teaching Women and Girls How to Be Courageous
March 7, 2022

Ayovuata Courage Uyoyou is a talk show host, humanitarian and women’s advocate from Igbide, Nigeria. This Academy for Women Entrepreneurs alumna utilized her Bachelor of Science in Accounting and Finance degree to work in the banking industry. In 2017, she discovered her true life’s purpose as an activist. She combined her passion for activism and her STEM education as a solar installer to create a nonprofit that provides opportunities for women and girls. 

Ayovuata is the managing director of Rainluz Nigeria Limited, a company that installs solar systems in Nigeria. Ayovuata realized that renewable energy was not accessible for all, leading her to establish the Rainluz Investment Multipurpose Cooperative Society. Her subsidiary company installs solar systems for low-income families with little or no deposit and helps them make small installments suitable for them. In her role as president, she negotiates directly with the Nigerian government.

In 2019, Ayovuata founded the Courageous Girls Women and Children Initiative (CGWCI). When asked why it was essential for her to start this nonprofit organization, she said, “I needed to address the ills and injustice going on in society and create lasting solutions.” The organization’s statement of need says: “It is often women, girls, and children who require social protection and interventions. They are inappropriately vulnerable due to gender discrimination, social injustice, extreme poverty, defective hygiene practices, harmful practices, and age. We must stand up to the challenges and work towards a better future for our women.”

The Courageous Girls Women and Children Initiative runs three programs that advance the economic and social development of vulnerable and underprivileged women and girls:

Ayovuata smiles with four other women and a man inside of a beauty salon
Ayovuata (the fourth person starting from the right) with students standing inside of an equipped beauty salon provided by the Spring Up program.
1. Spring Up

Recognizing that the future growth of Africa will depend on significant skill development, Spring Up focuses on empowering high school girls who are uncertain of their next steps in life. CGWCI introduces practical vocational skills such as catering, soap making, fashion designing, hairdressing and bag making to prepare young women for the future and keep them from engaging in harmful behaviors.

2. Ray of Hope

Ray of Hope reaches female prison inmates through skill acquisition training, mentorships and business grants. The goal is to promote the proper reintegration of female prisoners into society.

Ayovuata holds a spoon over a pot as two women of the Ray of Hope Program help her prepare party jollof rice.
Ayovuata teaches women participants how to prepare Nigerian party jollof rice.
3. Pad Up

Menstrual hygiene products are unaffordable for a majority of women in society. Studies show that many girls tend to miss classes during their periods and a percentage of them eventually drop out of school due to poor menstrual hygiene management and stigma. Ayovuata’s program provides free menstrual products and properly educates girls on hygiene.

Do you want to start a nonprofit organization supporting women and girls? Follow these tips from Ayovuata:

  • Make sure you have a strong passion for helping women and girls. “Your passion should be strong enough to drive you even when you don’t seem to see the result that you desire,” said Ayovuata.
  • Have a clear mission. Develop an organizational mission statement and strategic goals to keep you and your volunteers focused.
  • Commit to your mission. Ayouvuata said, “Be ready to commit your resources to better the lives of these women.”
  • Develop funding sources. Review the YALI Network Fundraising Concepts course or Fundamentals of Grant Writing course.
  • Ask for help and network in your community. Ayovuata advises: “Get others involved in your mission and work. Surround yourself with advisors, mentors, and board members with the skills sets needed to accomplish your goals.”
  • Build a strong team by recruiting passionate volunteers.

Are you interested in learning more about women’s empowerment? Visit our Africa4Her page for more tools and resources.

The views and opinions expressed here belong to the author or interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of the YALI Network or the U.S. government.