The trainings awakened me

Elfenesh Gebrehana and Hiluf Desalegne are a young couple. I went to their working place to ask their permission if they wanted to share their life experiences. They accepted my request and Elfenesh started to narrate her story;

I was born in 1976 GC in the Guraghe zone, Geto Woreda. My mother passed away when I was two and had lived with my aunt until I was nine . In 1993, I came to Addis Ababa with my father to live with him and my stepmother . I could not get along with my stepmother and because of that I started working in someone’s house and joined school in the evening.

I met my husband when I was in grade five.When I reached grade eight, I took the national exam but did not pass. After a while, we got married and started living together.

I came to Addis Ababa when I was four years old. When I met my wife, I used to work in a garage in the morning and go to school in the evening. After staying in a relationship for four years, we were married in 1993 GC. My wife stopped working for other people and tried to do other things in the house. p
While I continued with working in the garage we used to spend the money that I earned for consumption purposes. The amazing thing is that there was love that held us together and because of that life was not that hard for us. We had our first baby within two years after getting married.

Elfenesh took up. My husband’s earning was 50 Birr per week. We used that money to pay for the house rent and for food. After having our first child, I started baking bread for sale. In this condition, I gave birth to our second child. After my delivery, I started baking both injera and bread. We started getting a better income from the business to improve our life.

She continued. As we were trying to improve our living condition, I heard about WISE in 2005 GC around the Kebele in our area. I was afraid of taking loans and hence that I didn’t become a member of WISE for some time. After I was familiar with the Organization and its purpose, I became a member and started to save money. After saving money for four consecutive weeks, the staff called me to take a training on basic business skills. The training helped me to know more about business. I feel like the training has awakened me. I was able to change all the things in my life. It has helped me to realize that if I really work hard, I can definitely change my life and also build my self confidence. I successfully finished the training and took the first cycle loan of Birr 500 and bought the necessary facilities needed for pursuing the business.

Hiluf added. When my wife first started to bake bread to improve our lives, I was not happy because I had heard from others that the work was tiresome. Nevertheless, she was able to do it because she is a strong woman.

After a short period, she became a member of WISE and even though I didn’t think that it was that much helpful, I supported her to take the trainings.

Elfenesh took over. After paying back the first round loan, I took the second one to expand my business. Then, as I was about to take the third round loan, something new happened. We won the condominium lottery and the family was very excited. I used the loan for finishing some portion of the house. The trainings I received from WISE assisted me a lot in my personal life. It also helped me to realize that I should utilize my time and money appropriately. As things went on, I gave birth to our third child. Our house was filled with joy. For this reason, I stopped the business of selling bread and injera, and took the fourth round loan to start a new business which was sewing. After working on the business for a short period of time, I learned that the work was mostly undertaken during holiday seasons. Thus I rented a house to sell goods as an additional business. I paid back the fourth round loan and took the fifth one and bought a chips/fries machine and started preparing potato chips, cookies and snacks. I also increased my working hours, from 3 pm. to 9 pm. The business was profitable. I was able to pay back the fifth round loan, increase my saving and in addition to that I was able to save money in rotating saving and credit scheme, called “equb”. We also get income by renting out our condominium house.
WISE is not only involved in providing credit and saving but also works on encouraging the members and the Saving and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs). I took part in the “New and Viable Ideas Competition” held in 2010 GC and stood third. I got a prize of 5000 Birr. I was very pleased and happy with that. It encouraged me to come up with new ideas for the business. I also take part in the bazaars held three times a year which is very beneficial. I have been serving as a chairperson of my cooperative for the past five years. WISE is helping not only me, but my child by providing him with a job during the summer.

Hiluf concluded. My wife is a very strong woman. I support her with both the household chores and with her business. When she is involved in selling her goods at the bazars, I take my vacation and help her. In our house, both our male and female children are equally involved in the household activities. My advice for my brothers is that when a woman is involved in different activities outside the house, she should be given freedom because she is curious and able to handle all situations outside.

Elfenesh concluded. In the future, I want to expand my business more and reach my goal. My advice for my sisters is that if we support each other in the house, we can change our lives. In addition to this, in the business world gaining and losing is very common and therefore we should not be discouraged and lose hope. If we work very hard and are committed, we can change our lives.

Elfenesh Gebrehan from Edeget WISE SACCO