“Knowledge-based work has made me successful”

Taken from CST -2 newsletter # 01/05/17

My name is Emewedish Ashenafi and I was born in 1982 at a place called Shiro Meda in Addis Ababa. My parents brought me up and I received a good education. As soon as I reached 10th grade however, my grades began to suffer and I could not continue my education. As I had always dreamed of engaging in business activities, I saved up some money from the small amounts my parents used to give me from time to time for various expenses, and started selling cereals. Although I was happy with the work, I found that I could not be as successful as I wished, since I lacked sufficient working capital. But as I was eager to become self-sufficient and improve my situation, I worked hard at my job. On reaching the age of 23 I married a man who was involved in the weaving trade and bore him 3 children. We rented a house, but as I had no prior knowledge of savings activities, I started using money from my business activities to cover household expenses, and, as a result, my business suffered.

As the number of my family members increased, we found it difficult to meet our living expenses. I then thought of going abroad to work in one of the middle eastern countries and consulted my husband. At first he was alarmed by the prospect, but I told him that unless I did this, we would have little hope of raising and educating our children, and asked him to help me. I ultimately managed to convince him, and we agreed that he would continue working in Ethiopia and taking care of our 3 children while I was abroad. We used some of our savings to help me obtain a passport and prepare for my journey, and with the rest bought a piece of land from a farmer in Yeka/Ankorcha, on which we hoped to build a house in the future. I then proceeded to the particular middle eastern country where my handlers found me some work, after which I began sending my salary to my husband every month. He subsequently built a house from 42 corrugated iron sheets and sent me a photograph on its completion. My delight soon turned to sorrow when we were informed that we could not obtain a deed for the house, as it was reported to be on illegal holding. Soon after, the house was demolished by the authorities. My husband used to ring me from time to time to inform me that it was not only our house that was affected, and that other people were also experiencing the same ordeal. He said that that he and other affected people were planning an appeal to the relevant government authorities so that we could re-build the houses. After great difficulty, he was permitted to do that. In the end, my husband and I built a smaller house with our savings and with money left over from construction of the first house. Since I was very eager to see the house I returned home and was very happy to observe what had been accomplished. Besides raising our children, my husband had succeeded in a building a nice house. He is a very resolute person and loves and respects his family. Some women told us that that they had become sad and extremely despondent after learning that the money they had sent home had been misused by their husbands or relatives. I therefore wish to thank my husband for his faithfulness.

On rejoining my family I used my time appropriately and began selling tea and bread loaves, while preparing local food and drinks for sale. However, I did not have sufficient funds to carry out what I had intended. Pondering what to do and whether I should go abroad again, I solicited advice from my neighbour, Tayech Woldesenbet, who told me about WISE. I was very satisfied with her explanation, and, together with 4 other women, went to the Organization’s office and was accepted for its various training programmes. I was very appreciative of the training and regretted that I had ever gone abroad in the first place. I felt, however, that it was not too late, and with the knowledge gained from the training, started taking out loans for my work. Currently, my capital has reached 40,000 birr, and I also have adequate savings in my cooperative. Furthermore, I intend to purchase a house in the future.

I enjoy good relations with members of my community, and participate in my local Iddir (a traditional community solidarity group), as well as in my local women’s’ association, where I serve as secretary.

My message to other women in my situation is to join WISE and become beneficiaries of its training and other activities. Only then will they be able to transform their lives and improve their livelihoods.

(here is what her husband Ajire Admasu added)

My name is Ajire Admasu, and Emewedish is my wife. She is a very hard working person and I always try to help her out as best I can. We consult each other and jointly decide on household issues. If she is not happy with something, I defer to her wishes, as I know that all her efforts are meant to ensure our family’s welfare and progress. We jointly own all our assets. I hereby wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to WISE for its valuable support and assistance. We have learned that to be a successful female entrepreneur it is necessary to have a supportive family and maintain good relations between husband and wife and between children and parents. WISE is always ready to provide my wife and myself with very good advice and assistance whenever we go to its office, and are occasionally invited to share our experiences with other members. The Organization has also facilitated several experience sharing trips to Bahir Dar town (Amhara Region) for both of us, which we found very satisfying and productive”.

Emewedish Ashenafi
Kegna Yimaru WISE Saving and Credit Cooperative
Yeka Sub-city, Addis Ababa