Income Generation for 5,000 Poor Ethiopian Women

by Pathfinder International
Jun 13, 2011

Woman turns her life around





In Ethiopia, as a result of traditionally constructed gender roles, a stereotyped gender division of labor between men and women places women and girls in a subordinate position in society. The lack of access to and control over resources as prescribed by culture and tradition has forced females to disproportionately bear the burden of poverty, thus making them economically dependent on men and powerless to make decisions related to their human and reproductive rights. Women’s low social standing subjects them to various types of gender based violence, thus increasing their vulnerability and risk of poor health.

The low social and economic status of women and girls is a fundamental factor in maternal mortality. Low social status limits women’s access to education and good nutrition as well as the economic resources required to cover the cost of health and family planning services. For most women, employment choices are extremely limited due to various gender-based factors. Many women have come to rely on commercial sex as a means of sustaining their families. Abandoned women too often turn to urban prostitution as a means of economic relief, which rarely achieves this goal. Moreover, the low status of girls and women in Addis Ababa has forced many to dropout from schools. As a result, most women and families in this city, particularly mothers and female-headed households, are living below the poverty line.

Violence against women may be both cause and consequence of women’s low social and economic status. Women and girls are made more vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, disease, and unwanted pregnancy as a result of sexual and gender-based violence, physical and psychological abuse, sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation, early marriage, abduction, and rape, all of which are major acts that violate their human rights.

Through Global Giving funds, the Addis Ababa Women’s Association is helping economically poor and vulnerable women in Addis Ababa to implement income-generating activities (IGA) under the Association’s programs, the IGA beneficiaries are offered reproductive health and family planning (RH/FP) services and training as well as trainings on gender based violence and harmful traditional practices. Women chosen to participate in this program are visited frequently by program and management staff for encouragement and advice.


Through the generous Global Giving donations, four economically vulnerable women, selected from Kolfe sub city, were offered business management training and a seed grant of 1500.00 Birr each (USD $90). The new program participants include: Woinshet Addis, Kassech Tadesse, Bizuayehu Tilahun, and Sarra Wubshet. All four women began a food processing income generation activity. 

As a result of Global Giving funds, women are organized into cooperative groups, allowing them to benefit from district government microfinance enterprise support provided for women organized in cooperative groups. The following are some of the benefits they reap:

  • The beneficiaries have legal status;
  • The beneficiaries benefit from the capacity building trainings offered by the district

Microfinance office;

  • The beneficiaries have the right to access loan service if they wish to expand their business;
  • They are accountable to and monitored by the district microfinance office on their progress.

The newly selected Global Giving IGA beneficiaries are linked with their respective district administration’s microfinance office so that the beneficiaries can access services to sustain their business. These benefits include:

  • Training and loan servicing
  • Securing of workplace
  • Other relevant support, such as a market assessment


In total, 55 women are receiving support through the IGA Global Giving program. Following is an update on eleven of the women who have developed businesses through Global Giving IGA support.

Mamitu Asefa lives at Arada Sub city Kebele 16. She has a daughter and a son attending 5th and 8th grade respectively. She also helps her aged mother who requires a great deal of support. Mamitu received IGA funds to prepare and sell injera, a local bread.  She stated, “Before receiving Global Giving support, life was tough for me and my family, but after I received the Global Giving IGA grant, I started selling tea and bread and retail reeds for coffee ceremonies”. Her new business has enabled her to take care of her family.

Getie Asfaw  lives at Arada Sub-city Woreda 2. She works as  a house-maid, living with her unemployed husband and 11th grade son. Getie used to preparing injera (local bread)and living off the proceeds. However, because of financial problems, she was forced to stop her business, and her family faced great hardship. However, after receiving financial supported from Global Giving, she restarted her small business and she has been able to purchase an electric  stove. This has allowed her to prepare greater quantities of injera and serve more clients. In addition, Getie is now engaged in vegetable, fruits and charcoal retail. She said, “Thanks to the Global Giving financial support, me and my whole family are food secured and I able to cover monthly house rent, electricity and water bill, and buy all necessary school materials for my son, and also able to pay the monthly community social welfare contribution and has started the weekly saving of birr 5.”

Asefash Mengesham, who lives at Arada Sub city Woreda 9, is a single mother who are raising three children; two of whom are 6th and 8th grade students.  Asefash used to sell different kinds of processed food products, but due to financial shortage, she was forced to stop her business. As a result of this she was in great difficulties to feed her children. After she was selected to receive Global Giving support, she was provided with a seed grant to restart her small business. Asefash is now engaged in baking injera (local bread). She prepares 25 injera every day and earns birr 50 through sales. Asefah states, “I am very grateful for the Global giving support. Now I am able to provide for my family and buy the required school materials. My family and I are living very happily and we have psychological relief. In the future, I am planning to expand my business and to improve my life.”  

Kasanesh Belete lives in Gulele Sub-city woreda 5. Kasanesh is a widow with 3 children, who are students in the 12 th, 10 th and 7th grades. Formerly, she sold lottery tickets, which provided her with little profit. With this income, she was unable to feed herself and her children. Fortunately, she was selected to receive Global Giving support and was provided with a seed grant of birr 1500. Currently, she has started baking and selling injera to the canteen of weaver’s association near her neighborhood. With the profits, she is now able to properly support her 3 children and invest further in her business.

Yeshewa Mebrate Takele lives in woreda 5 Gulele sub city. Yeshewa is a HIV-positive widow and cares for her 3 children. Even though she has experience at pottery work, she could not continue working in this trade due to financial and health problems. Recently, Yeshewa was selected to receive Global Giving support and she was provided with a seed grant. With this money she purchased clay mud, wood, cow dung for the preparation of the ceramics work. She is designing and preparing various ceramic objects for sale. Yeshewa Mebrat is very grateful for the Global Giving support and is delighted to be re-engaged in the ceramics business and able to support her family. Yeshewa indicated, “with the money I got from the business I am able to improve my house and able to buy shoes for my two children, to cover the monthly house rent, and pay electricity, telephone and water bill, Although I am HIV-positive, the Global Giving support has given me the motivation and hope to lead my life peacefully and properly with my family”.

Worknesh Aygoda is living in Gulele Woreda 4. She has 2 children and was widowed when they were infants. Worknesh is engaged in charcoal, vegetable and fruit selling. Due to the economic crisis, she was having difficulty running her business and supporting her family. However, as she said, “before getting Global Giving financial support life was very difficult for my family but with these funds I am able to run my small business properly, and  to support my children, who are now attending their school consistently. In the future, I am planning to work hard and expand my business to support my children’s education in a better way.

Tsige Asmamaw is living in Gulele Woreda 2. After receiving Global Giving support she started baking and selling injera bread. In addition, Tsige sells household utensils. The combined income enables her to provide food for her family and provide her 3 children with the necessary school materials. She also is able to cover her monthly house rent, electricity and water bills, as well as other social payments. The support from Global Giving has enabled her to greatly improve her life.

Etagegn Bika is a single mother living with her 3 children. Formerly, she was trying to support her family by preparing and selling Injera bread. However, because of financial difficulties, Etagegn was unable to run her small business effectively and could not provide food for her family or send her children to school. After identifying her problem, she was selected as Global Giving beneficiary and provided with the seed grant. With this money she re-started her small business. She bought an electric stove to bake injera, which helped her to increase her output and income and improved her living conditions. Etagegn explained “Thanks to the Global Giving support, me and my family are happy and our living condition has improved. We are able to get our daily meal properly’. Etagegn is very happy with her business and she is hard working woman with very high enthusiasm.

Rawda Turaga, of Gulele Sub-city Woreda 9, lives with her five children, whose father is deceased. Previously, her life was very difficult and she was unable to feed her children. Rawda started running a small business once she was selected as a Global Giving IGA beneficiary. She is now engaged in Kotcho (banana) and charcoal sale. Her five children attend Kindergarten, 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 6th grades. Rawda is self sufficient and able to cover her house rent, utilities, and the needs of the entire family. Rawda is a hard working woman with such great enthusiasm that she is also one of the role models of the Global Giving IGA initiative.

Kanchiwodia Demeke resides in Woreda 10, in Kolfe Subcity. She lives with her two children and a  family member. Previously, Kanchiwodia was engaged in sewing cloth and making embroidery, but the income was insufficient to support her family. Now that she is involved in the Global Giving IGA program, she began preparing Ambasha/local bread using an electric stove, which has been very successful. She attributes her improved quality of life to the Global Giving Program. ”Thanks to the Global Giving support now my dream has come true. I bought 2 sacks of wheat flour, each worth birr 1100, this will enable me to make more bread and expand my business in a better way” Kanchiwodia is a hard working role model. Her two children are enrolled at school and in possession of the required school materials. 

Elfnesh Belihu resides in Kolfe Sub city of woreda 10. Prior to being selected as Global Giving IGA support, she ran a very small business selling candies, chewing gum and biscuits. The income she received was insufficient and she was unable to  support her family. Through the IGA Global Giving program, Elfnesh was able to change her business and return to baking and selling injera. Her income has increased significantly and she has begun paying back the loan. In addition, she has been able to use her income to purchase a water pipe line which provides her with a sufficient water supply. With the help of Global Giving support, Elfnesh is now leading a happy life with her family and she is grateful for the Global Giving fund.


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Organization Information

Pathfinder International

Location: Watertown, MA - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Caitlin Corneliess
Institutional Giving Officer
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Funded Project!

Thanks to 237 donors like you, a total of $21,225 was raised for this project on GlobalGiving. Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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