Fanta and her coallegue leading a session in her community

Fanta’s Story

Gender must not determine whether girls get education, Girls, just like boys, deserve education because an educated girl can change the world.

Fanta Jalloh is a 23-year-old woman living in Freetown, Sierra Leone. Her favourite childhood memory was going to school. Fanta used to love social studies, her dream was to study to become a social worker and lead women empowerment efforts in her community. In 2020, Fanta had to drop out of university due to a lack of funds and insufficient family support. 

Fanta’s Volunteering Journey.

Fanta heard about Restless Development through her friend. She applied to be a community volunteer in 2021 and began volunteering with the Women Living in Informal Settlement project funded by Jersey Overseas Aid.

The Women Living in Informal Settlement project aims to equip women living in slums with literacy, numeracy and financial literacy skills along with digital and life skills. Fanta was able to upskill herself as a result of the support and training she received, and moved back to the Crab Town community in Lumley, Freetown to recruit women for her savings groups.

Fanta leading a session on literacy and numeracy skills to one of the savings groups in her community

In my community there are still taboos and barriers to discussions around girls’ financial independence as well as sexual and reproductive health and literacy. Since I joined this programme, I have been able help other girls and women in building their knowledge, skills, self-confidence, and social capital and support them to challenge existing gender inequality.


Changing Community Opinions.

Many people in Fanta’s community do not support literacy training and are very hesitant to attend the sessions. They also find the banking system challenging, inaccessible, and time consuming, and thus avoid it by keeping their cash at home. 

With her skills in community mobilization, banking, financial services and advocacy, she was able to train 56 women about the relevance of literacy and numeracy skills in trading, as well as bank savings for financial security.

Working with women living in informal settlements made me feel proud. It was an opportunity for me to help women, & contribute to societal development and sharpen my advocacy and mobilization. Given the opportunity, I would do this again


In just 9 months, Fanta’s savings group has become the most successful among the 74 savings groups set up by Restless Development and its partners in the project. The group now has savings of 10 Million Sierra Leonean Old Leones (£409.43) and women who are now literate and have an understanding of financial literacy which helps them in their businesses.

Starting her own business.

Fanta applied the knowledge she gained during the training she has been receiving from Restless development to set up her own fragrance business. As a result, she was able to save her stipend and complete her university course in gender studies. 

She feels fulfilled that she has positively impacted the lives of fifty six women who have never been to school, to a point that they can now perform basic literacy and numeracy functions. They now understand the essence of bank savings and are now willing to open savings bank accounts for their little savings.

Fanta and her colleague preparing to deliver a session on numeracy and literacy skills

Nothing brings me more joy and pride than the happy, productive, and unstoppable women and girls I train. I loved witnessing their growth towards being financially independent and making informed decisions about their bodies and lives.