Joséphine, a 45-year-old Nigerian, prepares the menu of the day in her restaurant made of recycled canvas. Today's special menu is composed of a vegetable sauce, mashed yam, wheat semolina, leaf sauce, okra sauce, all Nigerien and Nigerian dishes that her customers, the local community, and migrants, are fond of.
Born in Nigeria, Josephine Peter left her city of Lagos for Arlit, a department of the Agadez region located in northern Niger, in 2016. Family tensions, her spouse abandoning the marital home, and her having to provide for her two boys and take care of their school fees weighed heavily on Josephine to the point where, in her opinion, the only option left was migration.
She decided to leave for Arlit, where she started a restaurant business near a mining site.
"I opened a small restaurant with one kilogram of rice. For the first meal, I prepared half of it, for which I earned 4,000 francs CFA (6.3 euros). Then, with this first income, I bought another kilogram of rice and some meat. Thus began my adventure as a restaurant owner in Arlit. That was five years ago, in 2017," explains Josephine.
In 2021, Josephine received support from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) community stabilization programme in the Agadez region to expand her business through funding from the European Union's Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. The programme's interventions focus on three areas; social cohesion, access to and provision of essential services, and economic recovery.
Through economic recovery, the community stabilization programme in Agadez aims to improve vulnerable communities' economic opportunities to strengthen their resilience and enable them to provide for themselves and their families.
In the Agadez region, the program has supported 350 people, including 230 women, in setting up an income-generating activity.
"The city of Arlit launched a call for proposals for youth with projects that were looking for funding. I applied, and the steering committee selected my project among many others based on my commitment and the relevance and feasibility of my activity," explains Josephine.
"I received a fridge, bags of rice, wheat flour, and oil cans, and a subsidy of about one million CFA francs (1,524 euros). Before receiving this support, my daily sales ranged from 7,000 to 9,500 CFA francs (11 to 15 euros). I had a profit of 50,000 CFA francs per month. Now, I make daily sales between 10,000 and 15,800 CFA francs (15.24 and 24 euros)," she adds.
"The money I earn allows me to better care for my children who stayed in Lagos. In addition, I can now pay for their school fees. The first is in the second year of university and the second in a polytechnic school," says Josephine.
Her restaurant is open every day of the week from 6 am to 7 pm. She employs two young women who help her with customer service and cleaning.
Through this business, Joséphine has also become closer to the local communities and does not hesitate to share her migratory journey with the migrants who comprise her clientele.
"I am well integrated here in Arlit, in my neighborhood, Boukoki. I have more clients from the local communities. Some migrants come to eat. The training I received in entrepreneurship and social cohesion helped me a lot in the management of my small restaurant but also and especially in living together with those who welcomed me with open arms," she concludes.