Valentine Sessou-Djokutu came to the US from Togo after spending seven years in a refugee camp in Benin. He arrived with his wife and three children in March of 2007 already possessing 24 years experience as a barber. After attending Boise Barber College, he received a license and a certificate.
EO helped him sublease a space from another EO client, as well as helping him with a loan to buy the equipment he needed. A year after he got his first chair, Valentine purchased the barber shop with $8,000 savings from an IDA matched savings program and a $15,000 loan from EO. Both of his loans from EO are nearly paid off. EO also helped him with his business plan, negotiating a business purchase and lease agreement. We were also able to get him pro-bono services with a business attorney.
Today Valentine has 3 employees, plans to hire more and is considering buying a storefront.
Valentine says that since he became a business owner, his life is more comfortable. He also finds that he is more respected and that he and his family were able to afford better apartment. His wife no longer works much and she can spend more time with their five children.
Valentine loves working with people and is working to build a reputation as the best African-American barber in the Treasure Valley. A few clients commute 50 miles to see him.