Fatima arrived to the United States with her two children from Togo, a country located in Northern Africa, soon after her husband was forced to flee and seek asylum in 2016. Her family resettled as refugees, working hard to rebuild their lives in the Beehive State. Fatima continues to be driven by the desire to ensure her family’s success in their new home.
Though she has faced the struggles of cultural and social integration, Fatima worked to be the best mother for her kids. Since coming to the U.S., Fatima worked to support her family: first as a seamstress, then as a Certified Nursing Assistant at Intermountain Medical Center, and her current work to obtain a nursing degree. In addition to these efforts, Fatima also graduated from the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Salt Lake City’s Child Care Business program!
Alex Durfee, Childcare Business Specialist, oversees the childcare business program, a service funded by the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) that provides technical assistance, resources, and training for refugees to open in-home childcare businesses within five years after their arrival. Since starting in her position last year, Alex has supported two cohorts of participants with a third launching on February 28.
“To me, the success in this program has been in their personal growth that I see with participants—the fact that I can see them go from 'I don’t know,' to 'I can do anything,' ” noted Alex.
The IRC's Childcare Business program enables refugees within the community, primarily women, who would like to pursue a childcare business to take a 14-week course resulting in their certification as daycare service providers. Throughout the course, they cover ten modules going over topics like self-advocacy, creating SMART goals, digital skills, financial literacy, and more! The program was originally launched as an effort to combat the lack of affordable and accessible childcare services nationwide while enabling refugees the opportunity to easily start their small businesses with little to no cost.
Fatima hopes to open her childcare business, Enfance Radieuse, meaning “light of children,” this spring, and it has been a long time coming. Fatima first began exploring the opportunity to open a small childcare business in 2020. Now in 2023, her hopes of business ownership in Utah are finally being realized.
Family motivates Fatima's efforts toward owning her own daycare business. Back in Togo, she would be a helping hand to families in the community who needed childcare. As a mother of two herself, she knows how important it is to want your kids to be safe and taken care of. Fatima’s hope for Enfance Radieuse is that the kids feel like they are at home when they come to her daycare.
Once participants of the IRC Childcare Business program graduate and are officially licensed, they receive a $3,000 stipend to purchase needed supplies and equipment, ensuring small businesses have the gear they need when their doors open for business. For Fatima’s business, she purchased an outdoor playground kit, a play kitchen, tables and chairs, nap beds, toys, books, and other needed items.
“It means so much that these women had something for themselves. Most of them have not done this before. I get to be a part of this process where I get to help them be brave,” said Alex, “There is so much good to be done in helping these women understand their value, and to this society.”
Over the last year, the IRC in Salt Lake City’s Child care Business program has helped 14 participants through the program—all working to launch their own in-home daycare service across Salt Lake County. You can learn more about these businesses and other small businesses opened with support from the IRC in Salt Lake City by visiting our Small Business Directory »