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Healthcare for her village, a better future for her family - Ivy's story

When her marriage broke up, Ivy Begum and her son returned to live with her parents in Mithapukur in Rangpur district. She began working as a teacher, but when the school closed, she felt lost. Ivy, now 28, explains how the Empower Youth for Work project offered her a fresh start.  

“When the school shut down, I was shattered. I had no idea what to do or how to do it. I was lucky, because EYW was there to help me. I’m a single mum, and my only concern is to raise my child properly. I wanted to be responsible for my own prosperity and security.’’

The EYW soft skill training and entrepreneurship training encouraged me to start a business. After the training, I did a needs assessment. I found that it’s difficult for people here to get hold of basic medicines and hygiene supplies because of the distance to a pharmacy. It’s especially hard for women.  

Meeting community needs  

After volunteering at Ranipukur Community Clinic for a month to learn basic medical skills, Ivy set up her own business, Nutrition Sales Service (NSS), providing vital support to local people. “I sell sanitary napkins, condoms, birth control pills and basic medicines,” she explains. “I check people’s blood pressure and sugar levels, weight and height. Right now, I’m the only person locally who is doing this. I also do home delivery.”  

Ivy started the business with her own savings, then a grant from the EYW project enabled her to expand. She says, “I collect products from wholesalers and sell directly to customers. There is no one in the middle, so whatever I earn belongs to me. Now I have a trade license and my own bank account.  

Facing down the critics 

“I faced lots of negative comments from my family and neighbors when I started the business. They didn’t see this as ‘decent job’. Now I ignore all these comments. As long as I’m doing well and my child is happy, that’s what’s important. My family’s perception has changed over time too.’’ 

“My life has changed because of the EYW project. I am more confident and active. I want to do advanced-level paramedics and expand my business so I can create job opportunities for other women. Earning money and taking steps towards a good life for my child makes me feel empowered. When people respect me for my work and admire it, I feel proud.” 

In Bangladesh, EYW supports budding young entrepreneurs by offering entrepreneurship skill development training. This covers the basics of starting and operating a small business and developing an innovative business plan. EYW helps youth refine their business plans, facilitates access to the local market, and links youth with financial institutions. Through the Livelihood Activation Grant scheme, a small grant is given to potential entrepreneurs after they complete the training. The project also selects existing SMEs that can create jobs for youth to benefit from impact investment opportunities.