Income Generation for 5,000 Poor Ethiopian Women

by Pathfinder International
Nov 25, 2009

Update on Income Generating Activities for Poor Women


Thanks to the generous support from GlobalGiving donors, Pathfinder is pleased to announce the addition of two new entrepreneurs to its project in Ethiopia: Atsede Wake and Simegn Tadesse. Now, Atsede, Simegn and their families are no longer resigned to lives of destitution and powerlessness. With an ability to save, these women can better protect themselves and their families against health emergencies and changes in food security, and are more able to make investments for the future, such as in education.

Name: Atsede Wake Background: Atsede is 47 and has experience in the fruit and vegetable trade and has already identified a location where she will run her business. Without support from Pathfinder, she would not have the initial funds to begin a business and would be unable to support her children for whom she is the sole provider.

Name: Simegn Tadesse Background: Simegn has strong business experience and has identified a place where she will set-up her business. Previously, her lack of start-up support prevented her from starting a business, and therefore she was unable to support herself and her family.


We are also pleased to bring you an update on the activities pursued by the 11 women who have begun income generating projects with support from generous GlobalGiving donors. Overall, the funds have enabled many of the women to leave the dangerous and exhausting business of firewood collection to pursue more lucrative, safe, and sustainable businesses in a variety of areas, including making and selling Injera (a traditional Ethiopian bread) and selling charcoal, grain, butter, and other items. As a result of their new ventures, many of the women are recording profits and have since been able to open savings accounts, which offer increased security for the women and their families. Moreover, the women report that their ability to yield profits in their new businesses has helped them to play a more active role in their communities. By demonstrating their capabilities, they garner respect in society and develop the confidence to address their needs and pursue opportunity. A selection of the women’s stories are highlighted here:

Desta Alemu has started a new business making and selling Injera, as well as other miscellaneous items for which there is local demand. Her seed money has been used to purchase an energy-saving stove, grain, and maize. Currently, she is selling between 40 and 60 pieces of injera daily, yielding a profit of 15-20 birr/day (approximately USD $1.50). In the future, Desta would like to expand her business to include vegetable sales. Thanks to her new endeavor, Desta no longer must endure the longhours and great travel distances in her previous job collecting and carrying firewood. Additionally, she has been able to enroll her two children in school and is now able to pay rent, water and electric bills without feeling constant worry and fear. Desta believes that after 20 years of hardship this new business has enabled her to start a new life.

Nunu Bereket has been able to escape the business of firewood collection to begin a new business selling grain and butter, which she purchases from wholesalers and sells to people in her village. For the start up of her business, she has bought one sack of wheat and one sack of maize. On average, she is able to sell 25 kg of each item daily, yielding a net profit of 20-25 Birr (approximately USD $2), which she can reinvest in her business. According to Nunu, her new venture has helped her to cover the educational costs of her two children to attend school, has helped her to feel physically stronger, and enables her to participate in civic society, such as attending community meetings. She says this of her experience with the income generating activities: “Now I have money so I can work day and night and improve my family’s life”.

Abaynesh Degero has started a new business selling charcoal, grain, and other items in her village, profiting 15-20 birr per day. Thanks to this new venture, Abayinesh was able to enroll three of her children in school and is receiving medical care for a longstanding health condition which has continuously affected her mobility. Moreover, she reports that she has more time to participate in social gatherings in her community and in awareness raising events. She has expressed extreme gratitude for the funding she has received and is looking forward to expanding her business in the future.

Ehetehun Derebe is using her seed funding to start making and selling Injera. Support from Global Giving helped Ehetehun to purchase an energy saving stove, grain, and other accessories needed to start her business. A true entrepreneur, Ehetehun has already attracted a sizeable clientele, including a few contracts with local hotels. Thanks to her business, Ehetehun is now able to pay rent and other bills on time and attributes her business to providing her with time to participate in community social affairs and attend various events, such as local administration meetings.

Bizunesh Desalegn used her seed funding to start a business where she sells Injera to local restaurants. Her new venture has enabled her to open a savings account, a rare opportunity for most women in Ethiopia. In the future, she plans to expand her business by hiring additional staff so that she can target a greater number of customers. In her own words, Bizunesh says of the support she received: “it is as you can see… I am happy. I am not spending my day laboring in the jungle but rather am at home doing my business and making money. Many thanks to Pathfinder International Ethiopia and Addis Ababa Women Association who saw our problem and came with such a relieving idea”.

Mewuded Kassa started a business in grain, charcoal, and fruit trade, though due to skyrocketing price of crops she has recently focused most on charcoal, which brings in 10 birr profit (USD $0.80) per unit sold. Mewuded says that her new business has helped her to improve her morale and physical strength and provides her with a strong motivation to work. In the future, she would like to focus more energy on selling grains.

Alemush Girma was able to start a charcoal selling business with the seed money she received. When asked what changes have been brought about by her start-up, Alemush says that she is now able to avoid feelings of fear and desperation, and has hope about the possibility of living a long life.


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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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