About us

Organization for Women in Self Employment (WISE) is an Ethiopian residents’ charity registered with the Ministry of Justice since August, 1997 and commenced its full programme operation in January, 1998. WISE has been working with poor self-employed women and girls in their efforts to achieve self-reliance and improve the quality of their lives. The major focus areas have been the economic and social empowerment of women and girls and thus, the improvement of their position and condition in society. Although it focuses on the economic empowerment of women micro enterprise operators, the interventions are equally appropriate to men and women farmers and vulnerable groups.

The direct target groups of WISE are poor self-employed women and girls in Addis Ababa who are mainly engaged in home based production and micro-scale trading activities and unemployed women and girls who wish to engage in micro-enterprise operations. Currently, WISE focuses its programme attention on 68 Woredas within eight of the ten sub-cities of Addis Ababa namely; Kirkos, Nefas-Silk-Lafto, Akaki-Kaliti, Addis Ketema, Kolfe-Keranio, Gulele,Bole and Yeka. The justification for focusing on these geographical areas of Addis Ababa is the deepened poverty among most residents and the related socio-economic situations that challenge women’s status and position.

Since its commencement of operation in 1998, WISE has recorded remarkable achievements in the development of women micro-enterprise operators.So far over 37,000 women and girls and 850 weavers’ households have been reached through the 83 established Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs). Thus these women and girls were able to initiate or expand their preferred lines of micro-enterprise operations. Moreover, Union, an umbrella institution of the cooperatives has been established to ensure the sustainability of services when WISE ceases its direct support to the cooperatives.A total loan of close to Birr 290 million has been disbursed through the cooperatives and Union for the purpose of running businesses, making down payments for condominium housing units and covering children's school costs.On the other hand, over Birr 90 million was mobilized as savings. Moreover, various trainings have been delivered with the aim of developing the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of the members in the areas of Entrepreneurship/Business Skills, Leadership and Management, Health Education and Literacy and Numeracy, and Life Skills. WISE is also very well experienced in delivering training to diversified groups of people such as youth, people living with HIV, returnees from the Middle East countries and farmers by using participatory techniques of facilitation and customizing its training manuals.

In addition, WISE, through its business wing, Meleket Training Services, provides its services to like-minded organizations that operate in different parts of the country. The services include provision of Training of Trainers (TOT) to staff of these partner organizations and provision of coaching and mentoring services. To date, the Organization has delivered Training of Trainers (TOT) in Basic Business/Entrepreneurship Skills (BBS), Leadership and Management and other related topics to over 825 staff of 176 Government, UN, international and local non-government and private organizations. The trainings were provided with the objective of upgrading the knowledge, skills and attitude of the staff members so that they are qualified to deliver effective trainings to their target members. Moreover, trainings mainly related to Business and Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Management, and Life Skills are provided to target members of organizations engaged in livelihoods promotion in different parts of the country. To date over 27,000 target members of over 141 like-minded organizations, located in almost all regions of the country, have received the direct training services of WISE in different subject areas. Information gathered reveal that over 108 organizations have replicated WISE’s livelihoods approach in part or in full.

The services of WISE in saving and credit initiatives have proven to be successful and a significant majority of the target women have become productive and self-reliant. The main reasons for choosing the savings and credit cooperatives (SACCOs) approach for the micro-finance services is that the approach provides for women's leadership development and it gives them ownership of the institutions. Members are able to easily access sizeable loans for their businesses and they are directly involved in making decisions on pertinent issues such as the rate of interest on loans and savings, size of loans, repayment periods, etc. Surveys on women who have taken advantage of WISE services indicate that some of the target women have been able to transform their businesses from micro to small-scale, and that they have been able to create job opportunities for many people.

In short, the overall aim of the programme of bringing about holistic development in women and girls and contributing to the reduction of poverty has been satisfactorily attained with vivid results, witnessed by various studies and evaluations done on the performance of WISE. Thus, the extension of the programme with continual improvement and advancement through strategic partnerships with like-minded organizations is imperative to further contribute to the eradication of absolute poverty and attain economic empowerment of women and girls in the country.