Or are you comfortable in your space, accepting everything life is throwing at you?

I dare you to think again.

I dare you to be inspired by some extraordinary girls in Nigeria.

First up, meet Abibat Mayowa Buhari.

She is an 18-year-old mother in Lagos, Nigeria, who got pregnant at the age of 15. Her unexpected pregnancy and feelings of shame, coupled with financial difficulties her family was going through, led her to drop out of school and join her mother in the meat selling business.

Her dream, however, was to become a doctor. She wanted to “save lives and communities.”

She enrolled in the ENGINE program. Educating Nigerian Girls in New Enterprises (ENGINE) works to improve the learning outcomes and economic opportunities for 18,000 girls, ages 16 to 19, in the Northern Nigerian states of Kano, Kaduna, the Federal Capital Territory and the Southwestern city of Lagos, the country’s commercial hub and former capital. ENGINE is part of The Coca-Cola Company’s global 5by20 commitment to enable the empowerment of 5 million women by 2020.

Participation in the ENGINE program enabled Abibat to save money and plan her finances properly. Today, she has increased self-confidence, self-awareness and self-esteem.

“Being bold to talk is one of the most important things I have gained from ENGINE. My father is very strict, but he was surprised to see me speak up for myself today. Now I am fully comfortable to speak in public. I can even talk to the President now!”

Upon asking her what she would say if she had the opportunity to speak to the President, she responded, “He should please use the power, authority and constitution of Nigeria to make sure the Chibok girls are released,” referring to the group of about 219 girls whose abduction from their school hostel in April 2014 by the Boko Haram terrorist organization.

Abitat is hopeful for the future. She dares to dream. She is ambitious and wants to set up a shop to expand her pastry business so she can save money to return to school. Like many women, she wants to have a positive influence on her family and community. She spends her spare time advising and counselling younger girls in the community. Her passion is the empowerment and education of girls.

She believes that ENGINE has done so much to restore her self-esteem and belief in herself.

Abibat Mayowa Buhari

Abibat Mayowa Buhari, 18 year old mother from Lagos. Her dream is to become a medical doctor. With the ENGINE program, her self-esteem, belief in herself and the future she will build for her child has changed for the better.

Education as an ENGINE of Development

The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation has partnered with the UK Department for International Development (DFID) Girls Education Challenge (GEC) and leading global organization Mercy Corps to implement the ENGINE initiative, which is also funded by Nike Foundation and supported by many other organizations.

ENGINE targets marginalized girls. This includes girls who are married by or before age 18; girls who are pregnant or have children; and girls who come from households with a sick parent or husband; are divorced or widowed; have a disability; or are orphans or come from a single-parent household. To date 9,833 girls have graduated from the ENGINE program, and 3,406 have been placed in apprenticeships and vocational training or have started their own businesses.

The objectives of the program include ensuring marginalized in-school girls improve their learning in a supportive environment at weekly Learning Space activities; increasing girls' economic assets and their influence on household decision making through access to education, increased learning, and direct linkages to economic activities. In doing so, the program works with gatekeepers (i.e., religious and community leaders, parents and husbands) to enable girls’ access to and involvement in learning and economic activities.


In his capacity as the School Principal and the Chairman of the CDC, Murtala Saleh Kugu encourages girls to remain in school. He states “ENGINE has brought life and light to the community”.

Empowering Girls Through Education

The role of gatekeepers, those influencing girls’ social and economic choices, is very important.

Murtala Saleh Kugu is father to eight girls and the Principal of the Government Secondary School, Kugu which is also an ENGINE learning centre.

Unfortunately, he was put in a position to choose between education and marriage for one of his daughters, who had just finished secondary school. There was mounting pressure from family members to allow his daughter to marry. Yet his experiences have made him believe in the value of educating girls and empowering them for the future. His solution was a compromise whereby he allowed his daughter to marry but also continued to pay for her school fees. According to Murtala, before ENGINE many girls did not understand the value of education and saw marriage as their only option. Now, school enrolment is on the rise. “ENGINE has brought life and light to the community. Even Islam says: When you educate one woman, you educate a nation.” he says.

Growing Her Business, Growing Her Confidence


Maryam Abdullahi, 18 years old from Abuja. She turned around her family’s finances setting up a kerosene business based on the business and finance skills training she received from ENGINE.

Maryam Abdullahi is 18 years old, married and lives in Abuja with her husband.

She dropped out of school when she was 15 because her parents could no longer afford the fees. She moved to Abuja and settled with her aunt, who runs a retail kerosene business. It was while helping her aunt that she met and married her husband two years ago. Her husband made all the payments for her family’s daily needs, which was a source of embarrassment for her mother.

She dreamed of a better future for herself and her family. In September 2015, one of her neighbors told her about ENGINE. Maryam initially attended the program out of curiosity. Having been impressed by what she learned, she stayed, paying close attention to the business and financial education sessions.

These sessions sparked an idea. She understood the business model of her aunt’s kerosene venture. Kerosene is a staple fuel for lamps, stoves and other household uses. It was a business she already had experience in from the time she helped out in her aunt’s shop. Through ENGINE, she joined a savings group and took out a loan of N5,000 ($25) to purchase the kerosene and containers she needed to start her own business.

Maryam paid off her loans from the savings group and saved up N15,000 ($75) of her own money.

Today, she uses her own moneyfor her family’s needs. This has impressed her husband, who is full of praise for the ENGINE program. “Introducing the project to us helped us a lot," he said. "What we ask of ENGINE is a boost to enable us to grow even bigger in our businesses.”

The ENGINE Theory of Change states that when marginalized Nigerian girls complete a full education cycle and are supported by gatekeepers they will be more skilled employees and have increased earning power and increased decision-making within the household. To achieve the goals of ENGINE, government ministries and agencies, civil society organizations, and the private and public sector are working together. Supporting ENGINE as value chain partners are The Coca-Cola Company, Airtel and d. light Solar Social Enterprise. Mercy Corps, a global humanitarian and development agency, is managing the implementation of ENGINE alongside the Society for Women Development and Empowerment of Nigeria (SWODEN) in Kano state, the Community Action for Popular Participation (CAPP) in Kaduna State, and Action Health Incorporated (AHI) in Lagos. Girl Hub Nigeria if offering technical support and Bayero University is an education partner.

To conclude, let’s dare to dream about the words of Nelson Mandela “Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can became a doctor, that a son of a mine worker can become the head of a mine that a child of a farm worker can become the president of a Nation”.