Tsigehana’s chickens are giving her daughter a brighter future in Ethiopia

|  Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Tsigehana’s chickens are giving her daughter a brighter future in Ethiopia

Tsigehana runs a poultry business in Ethiopia. She was one of the first 177 female entrepreneurs who started agriculture-based businesses thanks to the Slaight Livelihood & Gender Equality Project in Ethiopia. 

Funded by the Slaight Family Foundation in partnership with Canadian Feed The Children's family of supporters, the project aims to help girls finish their education and support new female-led sustainable businesses. It also supports community-led advocacy campaigns to promote women and girls’ rights, as well as a much needed study on child migration to inform future prevention efforts. This multipronged approach will help reduce discrimination against women and girls, and empower them to build an economically stable future in a country where only 6% of rural women have access to credit. Click here to learn more about the project.


Before the chickens

Tsigehana is mom to 8-year-old daughter Hiywot in Ethiopia. Until recently, her work as a day labourer was just not enough to feed and care for her daughter. Her low income and lack of opportunities meant she and Hiywot had to live with her parents, who helped her bear the costs of raising her daughter. She remains grateful for their support, but this was not the life she wanted for Hiywot.

"I wanted to support myself and my child, and also my parents. The income I was getting was very small to support all of us and I was looking for opportunities to engage in additional income-generating activities. When I heard about this program, I did not hesitate to register for it."

The program she joined was the Slaight Livelihood & Gender Equality project, funded by the Slaight Family Foundation with additional contributions from Canadian Feed The Children's family of donors. She was part of the first cohort of women who joined the program when it launched two years ago.


In Ethiopia, the odds are stacked against women like Tsigehana

Women like Tsigehana face big challenges in earning a living.

Even though Tsigehana was one of the just 25% of girls in rural Ethiopia who attended secondary school, she still faced an uphill battle to earn a good income, especially when her husband migrated to the capital Addis Ababa.

"I used to do daily labour work only for 70 birr ($1.75 Canadian dollars) per day. This money is not enough to do anything other than help to survive."

Gender discrimination in Ethiopia means that women are barred from high-paying jobs. In the agricultural sector, they make up 45% of the workforce but 56% of them are unpaid. They cannot access the land, credit, training, farming inputs and other foundational tools to start and maintain successful businesses or livelihoods in the sector that employs the majority of the rural population.

Facing all of these challenges, Tsigehana was highly motivated to join the Slaight program, which allowed her to access what she needed to start a new business to support her family.


Learning the basics and receiving her first chickens

When she joined the program, Tsigehana received training in basic business skills, including developing a business plan, financial management, customer service and marketing. She became part of a group of 30 women who founded the Kobeb Savings and Credit Cooperative, which helped its members save money and access credit for the first time.

During the training, she decided to pursue a poultry business, and once it was over, she and her other group members received capital to begin their businesses. For Tsigehana, this meant a cash investment of 10,000 birr - and the 22 chickens that would change her life.


Tripling her income in just a few months

"I started with 22 egg-laying hens.  The price of one egg in this community is 10 birr, which is about 220 birr per day. Much better than the income that I used to get from the daily labour work."

Earning 220 birr per day means Tsigehana is now earning 3.14 times more than her previous income, and this growth happened in just a few months thanks to the training, capital, and the chickens she received. She says she is now a confident entrepreneur, and looks forward to growing her business even more. Most importantly, the increase in income has made a world of difference for Hiywot, and is helping her support her parents as well. She no longer worries about Hiywot's future: "As my income grows, I am able to meet her needs."

As a leader in their cooperative, Tsigehana also reports that they have big plans for their members. Their goal is to become a big share company and they plan to grow both financially and in membership. "I am serving the group as a control committee, monitoring all group expenses, and following up with members’ performance in their business," she told us.

Donor support will help change the lives of thousands of women like Tsigehana

Thanks to the support of the Slaight Family Foundataion and donors like you, more women like Tsigehana will build strong livelihoods to support their children, grow their local economies, and break down barriers to gender equality where they live. 

    • The Slaight Livelihood & Gender Equality Fund will reach over 100,000 community members in the Amhara region of Ethiopia
    • 5,000 community members of all ages, genders and sectors will complete training in women and children’s rights and prevention of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).
    • 400 female entrepreneurs will receive training on business start-ups, assets, and education on sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR).
    • Police, legal counsellors and healthcare providers will refresh their training on the existing regional family code, women’s rights, harmful traditional practices and handling abuse cases.
    • Women and girls will have access to savings and loan systems so that they have assets, savings, access to financial services and a mentoring network when they graduate.

Strong community partnership is key to this community-led change. We thank the Slaight Family Foundation, our partners African Agribusiness Incubation Network and CHADET in Ethiopia, as well as our family of dedicated donors, for their continued partnership to create a world where children thrive. THANK YOU ALL!


In our podcast First Comes Food, we go on a journey through Indigenous food forests in Saskatchewan, farming communities in African countries and early childhood community programs in Bolivia to meet the people who are growing food security for everyone. Their stories may surprise you.

Listen to First Comes Food, now streaming on our website and wherever you listen to your favourite podcasts. 

Image