Women & Business

Women’s Cooperative Revolving Fund with Basic Business and Life Skills Transforms Livelihoods for Better

UN Women in collaboration with SOS Sahel Ethiopia has been applying the approach to four cooperatives and enterprises of 200 members, which comprise more than 1000 family members

According to Fantu Alemayehu, a young woman member of a saving and credit cooperative established  in Galan town,  a peri-urban area in Oromia region of Ethiopia, the 3000 birr equivalent of 86USD she borrowed three years ago along the training she received on Basic Business and Life Skills meant a turning point for the better life her family and herself are in today.   Fantu explains, “Sixteen years ago I dropped out of school from grade eight and  migrated from a rural area in Northern Ethiopia,  Gojam to Addis Ababa seeking for a better life.  I worked as a housekeeper for eight years earning only 70birr per month. When I didn’t see improvement in my life, I got married. Although my husband is a supportive one, his little income from provision of cart transport service to the villagers, was not enough to meet our basic needs.”

When the Gender Transformative Climate Smart Agriculture and Agri–Business (CSAAB) program launched by UN Women and SOS Sahel Ethiopia in  Galan town, Fantu became among the beneficiaries.  As a result, she says that not only hers and her family’s livelihoods have changed, she also became a model woman in her village for effectively using the loan and the skills she acquired, “When I received 3000 birr, during the rainy season I bought Gurage cabbage seedlings, which has a high demand in the community, and planted in my garden. The 10,000birr income from sale of the cabbage, the seedlings, and the dry seeds,  was the turning point for me and my family’s living conditions improvement. After I paid back the 3,000birr loan, I used part of the 7,000birr to invest in sheep fattening for sale.  Today, I am no longer dependent on my husband’s income to purchase what  I need. For instance, because of the labour and fuel saving Injera baker I bought, the smoke from the old baker is no more affecting my health.”

Being economically  empowered  not only enabled Fantu to support her existing family in a better way, she also realized her dream of having a second child, “When I gave birth to my first child six years ago, the burden on the little income increased and my husband and myself used to struggle for survival. When our livelihood improved,  we decided to have the second child and it has been only 50 days  since I gave birth.”

As a model woman in her community, Fantu was awarded  25,000birr  on business award competition  for successfully using the 3,000birr loan and  timely repaying.  This motivated her  to expand her business  and  to contribute more to her community,  “ Since I became beneficiary of the program, I have saved 40,000birr including the award.  If I sale the six sheep I currently own, I  estimate to have  50,000birr more and  my  short-term plan is to purchase  goats and fatten for sale as they take shorter time to  breed. My support to the women in the community will continue by sharing my experiences and by providing them with improved Gurage  cabbage seedlings.”  Fantu added that her  husband,  Buziye Yibeltal is one of the reasons behind her success. He supports her in the household duties including cooking after he took the training on Male Engagement and  Gender Model family offered under the program.

UN Women in collaboration with SOS Sahel Ethiopia has been applying the approach to four cooperatives and enterprises of 200 members, which comprise more than 1000 family members. The cooperative  in Galan town has fifty four  members.  A weekly contribution of  100birr  by  each member has reached their saving to 190,000birr. This is enabling more members to borrow from the revolving fund and  to invest in various businesses to improve theirs and their families’ livelihoods.

Tags : Women’s Cooperative
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