Medina wears a headscarf and smiles in an outdoor setting

Update from Ethiopia: 177 new female entrepreneurs!


Medina in a white headscarf smiles in an outdoor setting.

The Slaight Livelihood & Gender Equality Fund supports women and girls in Ethiopia to succeed on their own terms

On International Women’s Day, March 8, 2020, we announced the creation of the Slaight Livelihood & Gender Equality Fund, to give women and girls in Ethiopia access to economic opportunity, keep girls in school and prevent forced migration. 

Since March 2020, Ethiopia and the world have been shaken by multiple crises that have created numerous new challenges for girls and women living in the areas we work in. Despite this, the first cohort of 177 female entrepreneurs have all enthusiastically participated in the initial training, have received their seed money, and have already started new businesses. 

Here’s some of their progress so far. 

Quick Facts


Who is involved?

The average age of participants is 27.

Some like Medina (see below) are as young as 18, others are older mothers. All of them have different reasons for joining the program, but the most important is that they want to build a strong future for themselves and for their children, so they can thrive at home without needing to undergo a dangerous migration.


How did they start their businesses?

Women and female youth (aged 18 to 30) first started with training in business skills, which included, among other topics:

  • Business plan development
  • Calculating costs and revenues
  • Marketing
  • Customer service
  • Succeeding as a woman entrepreneur.

The women also participated in womens cooperatives, through which they could save money and take loans to cover expenses. Once they completed training, they chose business ventures, some as partners and some individually. Next, once their business plans were approved, they received their start-up capital to establish a variety of businesses.

Selected enterprises: 30% Commodities, 14% Poultry, 12% Coffee/Tea, 11% Cattle, 10% Goats/sheep, 8% fruits/vegetables, 6% clothing, 5% food services, 4% other

Meet the entrepreneurs

Medina is building a strong future
Medina with her calf in an outdoor setting

Medina and the calf she bought with her seed capital.

18-year-old Medina completed high school a few years ago but says she did not have the required grades to go on to tertiary education. Since then, she has been living at home with her parents, but felt like she has been a burden on her family since she did not bring in any income.  

It is difficult to be dependent on family. I chose this program to participate because I didn’t have anything to generate my own income.” 

Medina was one of 29 women in her community selected to join the women’s cooperative. The group has been regularly meeting to save together and receive business skills training, with members receiving seed capital to start or grow an agribusiness venture. Medina has chosen to pursue a cattle trading and fattening business and has already gotten started.  

“I have already started a cattle trading and fattening business. I bought a small cow which I will feed for some time and sell at a better price.” 

She says that participating has given her the confidence she previously lacked to build a livelihood and take charge of her own life. 

“My life is now taking a different direction, and I’m sure I will have a better future with this project. 
- Medina, Cattle Trader, Ethiopia

Neima now has the tools for her business to succeed 

Neima holds her small baby in an outdoor setting

Neima is ready to succeed in her business.

Neima, 25, is a wife and mother of two small children. She is one of the 177 women who received training and seed capital. She says that she had tried to run an onion business in the past, but the lack of capital and her limited knowledge and skills meant she was unsuccessful. She says she was nominated by her community members to take part in the project and did not hesitate to take the chance. 

“I learned about business plan preparation, financial management, saving, time management, and profit, having a vision and goal. Now I am benefiting from the training and the start-up capital.” 

Neima says she developed a simple, but successful plan for a poultry business. Even though she is only just getting started, she says it has already made a difference for her children.  

“My children get eggs and chicken to eat regularly, and they can have school materials and uniforms.” 

She hasn’t forgotten her first idea – onion trading. Now that she has the skills to build a successful business, she plans to add onion trading to her activities in the future. It’s all part of her long-term plan. 

“I want to grow in business and create a big company. I’m very happy to participate in this program.” 
- Neima, Poultry and Onion Trader, Ethiopia

This is only the beginning

Fatuma holds her son in an outdoor settingThis transformational change for women, girls and children is only just getting started. Here's what to expect by the end of the project:

  • 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.

 We thank the Slaight Family Foundation for their generous support of the Livelihood & Gender Equality Fund, and for helping women and girls in Ethiopia build strong futures. 

Strong community partnership is key to 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!

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