Women in Ethiopia, in general, and in the Minjar Shenkora district, in particular, still continue to face different economic challenges, such as limited access to resources, credit facilities, and markets. But some, like Ayelu, are reversing the course of history by creating their businesses, securing their own livelihoods, and ensuring their food security through the support received from the 4R Solutions Project.
Ayelu Mamo, a wife and mother of two, lives in Engida Eshet village of Kombolcha community in the Minjar Shenkora district of the Amhara region, a district well known for its high-quality “Teff ” production.
In addition to the traditional farming business of the family, Ayelu was engaged in fermenting a local beverage called “Areke,” the strongest alcoholic drink in Ethiopia, for the market to support her family.
Every week on market days, she takes the “Areke” to the local market, sells it, and returns home with the small profit she made. Though her capital was limited, she could not produce the liquor as much as the market demanded and was not able to get enough profit.
Ayelu, had no idea how to tackle this capital deficit once and for all until the savings and Credit Organization in the Kombolcha community provided her with a revolving loan of Birr 6,000.
“I expanded my business, started a new one, sheep farming, and leased farmland with the loan I got from the savings and Credit Organization. My fermenting capacity increased to 44liters of Areke per week, and I started to get 5750 Birr each week. The two ewes I bought gave birth and became six. I sold two of the fattened lambs for 3500 Birr each last time. Now I have four. The byproduct of the “Areke” fermentation process is used as animal feed and saves 600 Birr per week,” She said.
Aleyu paid back the first-round loan to the savings and Credit Organization fully and took a second-round loan of 19,600 Birr recently and bought a bull with 35,000 Birr by adding some money from her saving. She expects to sell the bull for more than 50,000 Birr for Ethiopian Christmas after fattening it well.
“Since the 4R project has been introduced in our community, I have become a member of the rural commercial women group and have been provided with many business skills training like financial literacy planning, bookkeeping, and saving. Before the training, my weekly saving was not more than 500 Birr. Now, I save 1200 birr in our “Ekub”(a traditional saving group) and 500 at the Saving and Credit Organization. I also bought land in Ararti town (the Capital of the district) for 52,000 Birr to build a residential house,” She said.
Ayelu and her family lease farmlands and buy agricultural inputs with the profit they make. They invest it in profitable sectors like animal fattening and sheep farming which generates more income. The household income and productivity of this particular family have increased since the intervention of the 4R project in the community in 2019.
Now hot, nutritious food is always available on their table. “I could not provide, and I was not able to afford what our children demanded. It was “Shiro”( a stew made from ground dried peas or beans) with Injera (local Teff bread) that was served most of the time. We have built the economic capacity to provide our family with safe and nutritious food,” Ayelu added.
Ayelu envisions a better life for the economically marginalized women in her community. She shares the challenge and success of her life with the women in the Kombolcha community, as well as the impact that the 4R solution has brought to her life. Now, she has become a role model for these women, and they are becoming active members of the savings and credit originations, following in her footsteps.
“I am grateful for the support the 4R project has provided my family. The loan I have been granted and the business skill training I took has changed my life for good. Thanks to my supportive husband and daughter, I am living my dreams,” Alehu said.
According to the report by the local implementer of the 4R solution project, Ethio Wetlands, and Natural Resource Association, the project established seven new rural commercial women groups in 2021. It has also technically supported the existing eight groups and capacitated them financially by liking them with their respective districts’ savings and credit organizations to empower women economically. In this regard, 56 members of the existing eight RCWG, like Ayelu, accessed ETB 678,840 loans from the Savings and credit organizations’ revolving fund and engaged in different income-generating activities.