Passion for hairdressing turns into a profession

27 June 2023
ITC News

With ITC training for young entrepreneurs, Bintou Ndure turned her passion for hairdressing into a thriving business.

In high school, she used her free time to do her classmates’ hair. She would also beautifully style her neighbours’ hair and help them apply their nails at home.

‘I do not know how I started doing it. It just came naturally. I was going to school and doing the hair of my colleagues. I remember even extending wigs for people and plaiting cornrows. I found solace in making people look beautiful,’ she said.

She knew she had talent and passion, which motivated her to study hairdressing after high school. She jumped on a scholarship opportunity to study, and then took an internship to improve her skills.

Today, at age 27, Bintou owns a salon in the heart of Serrekunda. Her business – Bintou’s Glowbelle – offers makeup, ponytails, cornrow, pedicures and more.

Bintou started her salon with only three chairs, three mirrors, a few accessories, and one employee – thanks to a loan from a close relative.

Her journey is filled with hard work and dedication coupled with patience. Starting, running, and expanding a business is a herculean task, especially for young people. At first, it was tough.

‘People did not know my business at the time. I struggled to attract customers. It was hard to expand my customer base in the beginning,’ she said.

Bintou almost closed down.

‘I wanted to give up. I was coming to work every day, but the cost of running the business was overwhelming and it weighed on my shoulders. In addition, I struggled to pay the rent,’ she said with a low voice.

Now she’s expanded, with over five employees and customers in her community and beyond.

‘Thanks to the knowledge I gained from the Andandorr Programme, I expanded from three chairs to eight chairs,’ she said with a wide smile.

Woman braids client's hair in salon
Bintou works on a client's hair in her Glowbelle salon in The Gambia. Her business is thriving after going through the Andandorr entrepreneurship support programme.
Photo by ITC

Training in the spirit of partnership

The Andandorr Programme is an innovative entrepreneurship support programme launched in December 2019 and jointly implemented by business support organisations in The Gambia. The programme is supported by the International Trade Centre (ITC) through the EU-funded Youth Empowerment Project (YEP). At the core of the programme stands the spirit of andandorr, which means ‘partnership’ in Wolof.

Bintou said the Andandorr Programme played a significant role in the success of her business.

‘I developed communication skills that were essential in attracting customers. I am now able to confidently communicate to potential customers thanks to the training,’ Bintou said.

‘The training also helped me to judiciously manage my revenue. Before the training, I would just make sales and will not record it,’ she said. ‘I was finding it difficult to track my expenses and income. Now I record everything that has to do with my finances – my expenses, profit, and income. I record everything – this helps me to know how much I earn daily, weekly, and monthly.’

Consequently, Bintou’s earnings are also up.

Bintou has added digital marketing campaigns.

‘Now I have Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook accounts to market my products. I am also on Afrijula.’

As part of the training, Bintou received coaching that contributed to her success.

‘The coaching was helpful. My coach would call me frequently to provide all the support I needed. She also brings customers,’ Bintou said.

Bintou has also trained young people who have gone on to open their own salons. She is determined to train more young people.

Bintou’s plan is to open a school and offer affordable hairdressing and makeup training. She plans to make skills development opportunities accessible to young people and women.

‘So many young people and women want to learn the skills but do not have the funds,’ she said. ‘I was helped when I had nothing. To give back, it is my dream to one day open a training school and offer these services at an affordable price.’

About the project

The Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) was launched to contribute to the economic development of The Gambia by improving the employability of the youth population of the country, especially potential and returning migrants. The project enhances employability and self-employment opportunities for youth through vocational training and the creation of micro and small-sized enterprises, and support in catalysing value addition and internationalization in selected sectors.