#PressForProgress: how one young woman is challenging norms in her village

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To mark International Women’s Day 2018, MEDA is highlighting important issues and voices around women’s economic empowerment and gender equality in the area of economic development. This is the second in our “Press for Progress” blog series celebrating the power of women entrepreneurs and their partners around the world.

International Women’s Day is an occasion to celebrate the achievements of remarkable young women, women like Mebrehit Hagos. Mebrehit is one of the recipients of the first round of grants provided to graduating agricultural students in in Ethiopia to start their own businesses. This program is being implemented by MEDA and Dalhousie University through the Agricultural Transformation Through Stronger Vocational Education (ATTSVE) project. The project, funded by the government of Canada, is intended to better prepare graduates from 4 selected agricultural colleges across the country to gain employment after graduation, including self-employment through entrepreneurship. The grant program is a key part of the project’s strategy to support Ethiopia’s budding young entrepreneurs.

In the first round of funding, 11 businesses made up of a total of 46 graduating students received grants to launch businesses focused on a variety of areas, from potato production to juice shops. Most of the students decided to work together in groups to share the work and the risk involved in starting a business, only Mebrehit decided to go at it alone.

Mebrehit is 20 years old and recently graduated from Maichew agricultural college with a diploma in Animal Science. In the months leading up to her graduation, she decided to apply to the ATTSVE project with a business proposal to launch a poultry enterprise. She received support from the ATTSVE team in developing her business plan and was approved for a grant last year. She now owns her own small business containing 80 chickens that produce over 70 eggs per day for her to sell to local markets.

Mebrihit recognizes the importance of both the financial and technical support she received:

“The ATTSVE project encouraged me to write my own business plan and fulfill my dream of starting my own business. They not only helped me get my business started financially, they also gave me technical support which taught me practical skills I would not have learned otherwise.”

She also recognizes that within the Ethiopian context, that the life of an entrepreneur is not the typical path for a young woman:

“It is unusual for a woman to start a business, especially as young as I am. But I was so determined and it showed in my proposal. I am fortunate my father and community supported me as well, however, I wouldn’t have been successful if it was not for ATTSVE.”

Mebrehit is a great example for other young women and has big goals for her business and her future: “I may be small now, but I am only getting started. I can only grow from here.”

As MEDA continues to roll-out the grant program and support other young entrepreneurs it hopes that Mebrehit can act as a role model for others, showing other young women that they too can build successful businesses.

Interested in learning more about our ATTSVE entrepreneurs? Visit our Vimeo site to learn about Soddo Potato Farm and Maichew Co-Op!

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