In partnership with the Addis Ababa Women’s Association, Pathfinder International Ethiopia has identified 11 impoverished women to benefit from the funds raised through GlobalGiving. These women all live in the areas surrounding Addis Ababa and were selected by a project-appointed committee based on certain criteria; the committee selected women who are currently earning their income through collecting and/or selling firewood, are among the poorest of the poor, have children who are attending school, and have demonstrated the potential to successfully run a more profitable business. Collecting and selling firewood is a particularly dangerous job; women are vulnerable to rape, harassment, and other gender-based violence because they must walk alone in the woods searching for firewood, often very late at night. It is not, however, a very profitable occupation, so even though they are working these women are not able to adequately provide for their families. Thus, thanks to the support of GlobalGiving donors, Pathfinder trained the 11 selected women on small business management skills and provided US $158 to each woman to start her chosen income generation project. These women can now sustain themselves and their families through safer and more reliable ways of generating income.
Below are profiles of some of the women who have participated in Pathfinder’s Income Generation Program, and the types of income generating activities that they have been able to pursue. Thanks to the generosity of GlobalGiving donors, these women have been able to improve their own living conditions, as well as those of their families.
Name: Abaynesh Dage
Abaynesh has ten children and is a single mother. Because of economic hardship, nine out of her ten children have been forced to stop attending school in order to work and make money to support the family; only her six year-old daughter still attends school. The entire family shares a rented one-room home. As a firewood collector and seller, Abaynesh would go to the forest surrounding Addis Ababa from 6:00 AM – 4:00 PM two to three times per week to collect firewood, which would be sold at the market for less than US $1.00 per bushel. As a result of carrying so many heavy bundles of wood such long distances, Abaynesh has developed chronic leg problems, making it even more difficult for her to earn her income this way. Identified by the Addis Ababa Women’s Association as one of the most needy and poverty stricken women in the area, Abaynesh was selected to attend the small business skills training and was provided the necessary funds to establish an alternative income generating business. Now, Abaynesh sells grain and vegetables at the market, providing her with a safe place to work and enough income to support her family.
Name: Mewded Kassa
Mewded is married, but her husband’s right hand is disabled. The couple has 2 children, the first child is four years old and the other is a 9 month-old baby. Before Pathfinder and the Addis Ababa Women’s Association identified her as a beneficiary of the GlobalGiving funds, the primary source of her family’s income was based on the money earned through firewood collection and selling. She could not, however, carry the firewood on her back because she had to carry her small baby, so her disabled husband had to accompany her on the long trips to the forest. Walking to and from the forest is approximately 30 kilometers round trip, which takes about nine hours. Mewded would collect the firewood from the forest and her husband would carry it back on his head to sell for an average US $0.65 per bundle. Thanks to GlobalGiving support, Mewded has established a small scale business of buying and re-selling fresh vegetables and she is very happy for having the opportunity to run a business that is both close to her home and more profitable so that she can support her family.
Name: Bizunesh Desalegn
Bizunesh has four children for which she is the sole provider: two sons and two daughters. Both girls were forced to discontinue their education at grades 11 and 9 due to economic hardship; the boys have completed grades 12 and 10. The eldest daughter is now working as a housemaid and the younger daughter is unemployed. Previously, Bizunesh’s means of livilihood was based travelling long distances to collect firewood, which would then be sold for approximately US $0.75 per bushel. She used to collect firewood four times a week in order to bring in more income for her family, but due to chronic leg pain from years of such hard labor, she had to reduce those trips to only twice per week; however, she would not let her daughters help her because of the danger of being raped or harassed in the forest.
Bizunesh has used the support from GlobalGiving, through Pathfinder, as seed money to start a business of baking and selling injera (a local flat bread). Now that she has started a new business which offers her a better working conditions and income, Bizunesh plans to give more attention to the education of her daughters.