“Any problems women may encounter in their lives can be overcome through hard work, ultimately leading them to success”

(taken from Issue no. 147, June, 2017 Let Me Narrate My Story newsletter of WISE)

After the Emperor was overthrown by the Derg, chaos ensued in our area, so my parents brought me to Addis Ababa. I joined a traditional school and began studying the Amharic alphabet. After a while I decided to help my parents while in school, so I started to sell kolo (roasted barley). When I reached the age of 19, a government organization employed me paying 8 birr per month, but before long I got married and had my first child. I cannot forget one of the most trying times in my life. This was when my husband was arrested and imprisoned and I had to care for my child. However, I am indebted to my mother during this period. As I could not bring up my child by myself, I gave him to my mother and continued with my work, providing for the child’s needs as best as I could.

“My husband was released after serving 2 years in prison, and, as he could not find work over the following two years, I became responsible for providing for our household needs. I had people I knew bring me food items from the countryside and then sold them at a profit. After a while, my husband was able to go back to his previous job. Both of us knew we had a responsibility for providing for our family, and this required some changes in the way we lived. While engaging in business, I had also worked for some 27 years as a cleaner in an organization. However, when it closed down for lack of funds I fully started focusing on my business activities. My first job was selling food items by the roadside, but had to stop this after I was told that it was illegal to do so. As I could not sit idle, a friend and I applied to obtain facilities to conduct our business activities. I was provided with a large house and opened a simple cafeteria. The work was good but I was unable to save any money.

One day in 2008, a friend told me about WISE and how I could transform my life by becoming a member and undergoing a training. However, I did not take up her suggestion for a full 4 years. In 2012, however, I paid a casual visit to the Organization, and while there decided to register as a member and was invited to participate in a training. I will never forget the type of orientation I was given which was very attractive and took up my full attention. Without a moment to lose, I started saving and subsequently took out a loan of Birr 1000 and bought items for my cafeteria. I returned on time and took a second round loan of Birr 1,500. I strengthened my activities, utilizing the knowledge I had received from the training and became more profitable than I had ever expected. I began using an accounts ledger, began implementing market studies, and improved my relationship with my customers who, in return, started to hold me great respect. I spent 3 years in running the cafe, but was again forced to discontinue this line of work due to road construction activities in my area. I did not lose hope, however. I conducted a market study and finally decided involve myself in baking and selling injera.

What can I say! I encountered great success in this activity. Without the training received from WISE, I could not have known how to conduct a market study. Previously, I had focused only on one line of work. WISE showed me that I could engage in different types of business activities at the same time. My income has now increased and I have been able to employ a young girl to help, paying her Birr 1,500 per month. All my children are educated and employed. In addition to my children, I have also married off four persons who used to be employed in my house. This is all due to God’s Grace and WISE’s assistance and support. I never tire of telling everyone how much I am indebted to the Organization. Currently, I have savings of Birr 50,000 and have taken out a loan of Birr 70,000, which I am in the process of settling. I have also bought a plot of land in my home area.

(Abonesh has changed in the way she thinks of herself. She always comes up with a work plan before beginning a specific business venture. The number of cash boxes neatly lined up in her shop indicates the utmost care she gives to her activities. She constantly talks about WISE, and has encouraged her neighbour, who used to suffer abuse by her husband, to start her own business activities. The training on basic health issues that Abonesh had previously received now helps her to administer First Aid in her community, whenever the need for such treatment arises. Abonesh participates in various social activities and is chairperson of her local Iddir).

According to a market survey I undertook, laundry facilities are currently lacking in my area. I plan to start such activities with another loan I intend to take out from my cooperative. In addition, I plan to build a house and shop on the land I had previously bought, using Birr 100,000 birr I will soon receive from my Equb (saving group). God Willing, I also intend to buy a car to help me in my work.

My message and advice to other women is that any kind of problem they may encounter in life can be solved through hard work, and there is no reason that they cannot achieve success. On the other hand, I urge them to educate their children properly. I remember when I was young I had always thought of successfully educating my children. Frankly speaking, I had always preferred to witness their graduation from college, rather than their respective marriages. Three of my six children have now received their post graduate (masters) degrees. The other three possess first degrees and are currently contemplating obtaining second degrees”.

Abonesh Bereda,
Edget Ber WISE Savings and Credit Cooperative
Kirkos Sub-city, Addis Ababa