African women have traditionally always worked together to do things. Often, this is a form of trade, whereby women bring about their handy work and crafts and trade those for the productions of other women. What this means is that women have been involved in traditional economic and financial trades since the beginning of time. Yet, women like Nenadi Esther Usman, the former finance minister for Southern Kaduna in Nigeria, continue to be unique. It seems that, while women take on positions of trade wherever they are, it is rare for them to be recognized for this.
Nenadi Esther Usman aims to change this. She, as a minister from Kaduna, wants to show women all over the country that they are the boss over their own lives. Consider, for instance, that she was born Esther Nenadi, but is now Esther Nenadi Usman, marrying a Muslim man despite being Christian herself. As senator Nenadi Esther, she took it on herself to improve the economic and financial situation of her country, but of the women in Nigeria in particular.
African Women and Trade
What women all over Africa have always done, according to Usman, is work together in order to make sure that their children were always fed. Often times, women would even be able to save money, using this to ensure their husbands would be able to pay for entertainment such as drinks in the local villages. In fact, the origins of SACCOs, according to Esther Usman, lies in this. A SACCO is a group of people that have a singular common goal and who put all their resources together in order to ensure the group as a whole achieves financial success.
According to Nenadi Esther, African women have naturally done things that are now regulated by banks, employment agencies, and courts. They would, for instance, give one woman an advance in materials or other resources, so she would be able to construct something else. Once money became more commonplace, women would give each other money, knowing that they would see it returned through the work of the other. This is a sense of togetherness, which some say lies at the heart of the feminine.
Women have not stood still either. Today, women even help each other financially in order to support parents. Women in Nigeria, for instance, will often pool together to make a parental visit, providing them with a gift in order to receive blessing for their daughter. They do this so the parents are impressed with the support, but in the full knowledge that the same will be done for them when the time comes.
Across the world, but particularly in Africa, sisters, wives, aunts, mothers, and daughters have shown that the SACCO movement is a feminine one. It has since received global success, but this is not what African women care about. They care about continuing to do what works and to achieve their own financial, political, educational, and health freedom. And with role models like Esther Nenadi, that is precisely what they will achieve.