Gizaw Tessema is an energetic rice entrepreneur in Ethiopia who joined the rice business in 2011 as a rice paddy trader. This means he collected rice from farmers and brought it to rice processers.
Rice is the third largest agricultural commodity in the world. Over 741.5 million tons of rice is produced every year. The majority of which is grown in India and Thailand. Outside of India, Thailand and China, there is little competition.
Gizaw is trying to change that, but it is at the beginning of a difficult journey.
Why is this?
Ethiopian rice is of poor quality. The grains are broken and usually cleaned ineffectively. This is due to lack of good agricultural practices, quality rice seed and gaps in the local rice supply chain.
MEDA’s Ethiopians Motivating Enterprises to Rise in Trade and Agri-business (EMERTA) project is working to fill these gaps by facilitating solutions.
The EMERTA project is committed to increasing sustainable employment and income generation for women and men in the Amhara region of Ethiopia by improving business performance of agricultural producers and the small and medium enterprises that buy from and supply inputs, equipment and services to them.
In 2011, Gizaw launched his own rice-processing business. He partnered with local cooperatives that supplied quality seed and agricultural training to farmers in region. The rice collected by the cooperatives is then processed by his rice milling machines.
In 2017, Gizaw learned that MEDA had a program that would teach him business management, give him technical training and one-on-one coaching from rice-sector experts. Through MEDA, he learned about value proposition, customer service and record-keeping.
In addition to his business training, Gizaw applied for a loan to purchase new rice processing equipment through a local bank. With MEDA’s support, he received 350,000 Ethiopian Birr (about 16,400 CAD) to establish working capital. With his new rice processing equipment, he hopes to make Ethiopian rice a viable competitor with international rice varieties. He dreams that one day, Ethiopian rice will be known for its unique flavor and quality.
Gizaw is proud to report that his rice processing enterprise employs nine people. With the increased capacity, he has been able to buy more rice from farmers in the area. He can now purchase an average of 10,000 quintal (100 kg) of paddy rice and 18,000 quintal of milled rice per annum.
As a result, his income has increased, he is paying down his loan from the bank and has built a beautiful new warehouse that has allowed him to provide additional warehouse service to his customers. He has also purchased 250 square meters of land adjacent to his warehouse for further expansion. He hopes to hire six additional members to his team to satisfy the demand.