Mayol: the 15-Year-old entrepreneur

South Sudan

July 5, 2011

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Fifteen-year-old Mayol Dau started a cell phone business, with help from Mercy Corps, to help his family buy food. Now he's also using the money to pay for school fees to further his studies. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps
  <span class="field-credit">
    Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps  </span>
    Mayol Dau does three things in his shop: credit card transfers over the phone, repair of mobile phones and recharging of mobile phone batteries. Photo: Cassandra Nelson/Mercy Corps

Mayol Dau is 15 years old and is an entrepreneur in Aweng, Twic County. Twic County is a remote area of South Sudan that has no paved roads and very little infrastructure, but that has not slowed down the business instincts of this teenage boy.

During the civil war between north and south Sudan, he lived in the north for 11 years. He left his home in the south when he was too young to remember it. Mayol returned to Twic with his family in 2005, when the peace agreement was signed and the bloody civil war ended.

When they returned back to the south the situation was very difficult.

“We didn’t have a house and lived in a camp for returnees,” recalls Mayol. “We didn’t have enough to eat most days and there was no school when I first came.”

He started a business in 2006 to help his family get money to buy food. He does three things: credit card transfers over the phone, repair of mobile phones and recharging of mobile phone batteries. Mercy Corps assisted him in starting his business as part of its micro-enterprise program.

“Mercy Corps helped me with money to buy the locking cabinet for my phones and they provided a generator so I could charge the phones,” explains Mayol. “Now my business is good. I make 70 Sudanese pounds (about US$26) a day. I use the profit for food and to pay my school fees.”

Mayol’s cousin works at the shop while Mayol goes to school in the day. In the afternoon, Mayol works in the store until evening and then studies before going to bed.

He is filled with hope for the future, and plans on being a doctor when he is older.