Sunday, April 7, 2013

A story by one of the program beneficiaries of WISE (women in self- employment)

My name is Mulumebet Alemayehu, I was born in 1968. When my father bought a new house in the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, I moved to the city with my parents when I was just 6 months old. Then I went to a traditional religious local school for kindergarten and attended secondary school up to the 11th grade.  I dropped out of school when I got married.

My husband earned a monthly salary of 400 birr ($22) per month; I was a house wife and I often felt like I didn't have any economic contribution to the household. The fact that I could not earn an income always bothered me. After some thought I decided to sell bread. I started the business with the money I had on hand and a friend who saw my effort advised me to become a member of the organization Women in Self- Employment, (WISE). At first, I refused to join teasing her saying that she is getting a commission for urging me to join the organization, though she never gave up. Finally in 2006, I joined WISE’s cooperative in my area and started saving right away. I then took the training that helped me to reflect on my life.  I felt sad that I wasted so much time before joining the organization.  The knowledge I obtained from the training helped me to use my time and money more wisely and aptly.
 I decided to take a loan of 500 birr ($27), I got re-organized and expanded my bread selling business.  It was at this time that I faced a huge opposition from my family especially my daughter. I never forget the time when she said she doesn't want to be known as ‘the daughter of the bread seller’.  I put up a sign at my gate, just like the marketing training I took at WISE had taught me.  This disappointed my daughter even more. My entire family was not supportive of me and wanted me to quit but I was not willing to give up. After some time, I changed my bread selling business to Tej selling (honey wine) which is an Ethiopian local drink. Business started looking up and I was able to attract many customers. Gradually, I started observing change in my house. 

My daughter who was ashamed of my business and tried her best to intervene is now fully supportive because she is a beneficiary herself and I am happy to have reached this stage. I now have a property worth of 8000 birr ($428), and the business that was started with 500 birr ($27) is now run at 8000 birr ($428) capital. I am no longer idle; I am a business woman and advise others to work rather than being dependent on husbands. I say, we should be purpose oriented to do anything. I prepare tej for different events and weddings and today, it is my entire family that is benefiting out of my business. 

Women in Self Employment (WISE) is one of the four partner institutes of the African Centers of Excellence (ACE) for Women's Leadership program run by the Institute of International Education (IIE) , Ethiopia Office.
For more on IIE , ACE or WISE please follow the links below.