Ethiopia's national development plan has underlined the critical importance of empowering women and ensuring equitable benefit as one of the pillar strategies for sustaining rapid and broad based growth path.
To this end, the government has devised a number of projects and programs that can increase women's economic participation and enhance their overall benefits.
Women Entrepreneurship Development Project which has been operating under the Federal Urban Job Creation and Food Security Agency is one among the others.
On top of this, the Agency ever since its establishment eight years ago has benefitted more than 22 thousand women entrepreneurs by providing over 4.6 billion birr in its credit provision program designed to enhance women's entrepreneurship capacity, apart from the skill based trainings, financial and other similar supports.
Gebre Meskel Chala, General Director of the Agency said that women entrepreneurs who were benefited from this credit have been expanding their businesses and creating job opportunities for a number of citizens.
He noted that in order to support women who are engaged in small businesses and unable to obtain credit from banks, the project has created a linkage with 12 small financial institutions to enable them obtain credit services, he added.
Tiblet Habtamu is a Chief of Alfo Awgichew Women's Garment Enterprise, operating in Addis Ababa, Nifas Silk Sub City. She said that her enterprise has gain support from the project both in obtaining skill based training and loan.
She noted that their enterprise was established in 2010. And for over seven years, it was not effective and efficient due to absence of startup capital and lack of the required machineries. As a result, the number of members had decreased greatly. However, the support they gained through the project brought radical change for both the enterprise and members.
She underscored that currently the enterprise capital has reached to more than 15 million birr and created job opportunity for 81 women.
Parallel to enhancing its income, the enterprise has been providing social service for different vulnerable groups. Every year, the enterprise provides exercise books and school uniforms for hundreds of destitute children. Moreover, following the outbreak of COVID-19, it has been supporting large number of people in need by doanting foods and non-food materials.
Mentioning that the training that her enterprise obtained from the project has enabled to operate state of the art machineries, she stressed that now the enterprise is on process to transfer from the micro and small enterprise to medium enterprise level.
Over the past two years, various women were able to leave and start their own businesses. This could easily show that how the project enables them both in their skills and income generation.
Tigist Tikse is also a resident of Nifas Silk Lafto Sub City and another entrepreneur who was benefited from the project though organized in another garment enterprise called 'Oda Garment Enterprise'.
She said that the technical and capacity building training plus other supports that the enterprise has been obtaining from the project have enabled them to do their business easily.
Though the enterprise has been operating to engage in export, due to some challenges such as bureaucracy, they have not started exporting yet, as to her.