Meet Huzaifa Hamza.

After tragically losing both his parents in an accident as a young child, Huzaifa raised his four younger siblings - and attended school at the same time. When he got married in 2003, he was naturally eager to start a family of his own and work to create a better life for his (upcoming) six children.

However, Huzaifa encountered even more tragedy.

Huzaifa’s first and only daughter was born with a hole in her heart. While this is a fairly common and treatable birth defect in the developing world, the outcomes are often more grave without access to medical care.

Thankfully, Huzaifa had started his own sewing and tailoring business in 1994 after being an apprentice at a tailoring shop. Starting with only $17 of capital, Huzaifa worked hard his first year and expanded his business and purchased six new sewing machines. Year after year, Huzaifa grew his business, and even diversified into cattle fattening, turning his initial $17 of capital into nearly $1,000 of assets through the years.

But, as his daughter’s health continued to decline, medical bills began piling up. Huzaifa began liquidating his assets one by one to pay for her medical care. In 2016, Huzaifa had eventually sold all of his possessions and closed his tailoring shop after over 20 years of operation.

Later that same year, after losing nearly everything, he lost what was most dear - his daughter.

Huzaifa Hamza owns and operates a tailoring shop in Wunti Market in Bauchi, Nigeria. He has been a Leadership Initiatives beneficiary since 2018.

“I had given up everything for her, but I would do it again.”

Huzaifa now had five children, a wife, school fees, and no source of income - not to mention the heartbreak of losing his only daughter.

Access to medical care is a pervasive issue in Bauchi and rural Nigeria, and an even larger issue for pregnancy and childbirth: the infant mortality rate (per 1,000 births) is 35.9, as compared to 4.1 for OECD countries. As of 2012, there were 10.92M people living below $1.90/day and 18.12M people living below $3.10/day in Northeastern Nigeria, with financial resources an insurmountable barrier to care for many Nigerians.

In early 2017, Huzaifa learned of Leadership Initiatives and our community development program and became a formal business partner to get his tailoring shop reopened and begin hiring more members of his community. Huzaifa became a YDP Business Partner and received full grant funding to fully launch his new business, with logos and advertising designed by LI interns who worked to secure the grant.

Huzaifa had secured a location and purchased the minimum essentials needed to run his business, but his operation was nowhere near as large, sophisticated, and profitable as his previous shop.

Huzaifa plans to expand his shop to a larger location in the future, and work to hire even more employees than the seven he had previously working at his old shop. He hopes to become well-known in his community for innovative, affordable, and beautiful clothing pieces and alterations, as well as a driver of community development and sustainability.

Huzaifa's new tailoring shop after funding, with brand new tile floors, custom furniture for storage, an industrial sewing machine with a sewing table, and new seating for his clients - not including the year of rent he covered with his grant.

With his grant, Huzaifa was able to buy an industrial sewing machine, new equipment, an iron, covered one entire year of rent, and installed permanent flooring in his shop. For the last two years, Huzaifa has also been working with students in the International Internship Program to implement advertising campaigns, create a budget and financial tracking system, and refine his brand.

He has even begun hiring and training apprentices to start a ripple effect in his community, opening up new job opportunities and helping his community learn and develop critical skills.

“After losing my previous shop, I would have never thought I could rebuild again. It seemed like the odds were against me. Now, only four years later, I have a business again, and it is growing faster than my previous shop ever did.”

Huzaifa and others like him represent the most deserving, yet ultimately underserved, entrepreneurs and heroes in the developing world. You can help Huzaifa and others like him by supporting Leadership Initiatives and working to build stronger communities worldwide.

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