Friday, March 4, 2016

When Interest and Opportunity Match...

Hilina Yitateku is a young entrepreneur, who is able to grow her business capital tremendously in a very short period.  She is a mother of two and has got a diploma in Machine Operating and advanced diploma in Industrial Engineering.  After her graduation, she was employed in one of the industrial companies and worked there for ten years but she was not happy. Finally, she resigned. We invited her to share with us her life experiences, what motivated her to start a business …and her success factors.  We hope you enjoy the read.

After obtaining a diploma in Machine Operating, I was working for a company for ten years with a monthly salary of Birr 1,900.00 ($90.5). I continued attending classes for my BA degree at Addis Ababa University in the department of Engineering. I then heard that most of the BA graduates who are employed in the same company as I were earning Birr 1500.00 ($71.4) which was very discouraging for me. Then I decided to stop attending classes and resigned from the company.

Before I started engaging in business, I was hoping to take trainings since I didn’t have any knowledge and skills about starting my own business. My sister, a senior member of one of the Saving and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs) of Women In Self Employment advised me to become a member of a SACCO and take a business skills training. It was in 2007 that I joined ‘Serto Massaya’ SACCO in ‘Akaki-Kaity’ sub-city. This was a very good opportunity for me.I took the Basic Business Skill (BBS) training for 10 half days. While attending the training, I realized that my previous diploma and degree classes could not help me to become an entrepreneur.  The training was very relevant and it encouraged me to start my business immediately.

As soon as I completed attending the BBS training, I took a first cycle loan of Birr 500.00 ($23.8) and started a mobile maintenance business. Since I was not skilled in the profession; I hired my cousin to work as a part-timer. But, it was very difficult for him to run this task as he had a commitment in another business.  Due to this problem, I took short term mobile maintenance training and started the job myself. After a while, I handed over the business to another person and engaged in printing and stationary business with my friend. After four years in the business, our partnership discontinued and I opened my own private printing and stationery firm with the name Hilina Yitateku Printing and Stationery P.L.C.

Since I applied the knowledge and skills I got from the training at WISE, it didn’t take much of my time to bring changes in the business.  As my business grew fast, I requested my husband to resign from his job and start his own business too.  Soon he started his own steel works.  Aside from his business, he continued attending classes for his BA degree in Civil Engineering and he also obtained construction license.  Currently, he is running both steel and construction works. While he was attending classes, I was the one who was supporting him financially. Now, both of us have become successful in running our businesses. 

I work 12 hours per day including weekends. This helped me to attract more customers and improve my business capital. I have won many bids, some amounting up to Birr one million ($47,619). The loan I once took from the SACCOs Union which amounted Birr 300,000 ($14,286) that I used for a bid I won was very helpful to transform my business.I recently, travelled to China and brought 5 modern, digital printing machines in order to do my business efficiently and effectively. Currently, I am engaged in cap & T-shirt printing, making flash stamps and producing different kinds of cards. I have rented two shops for my business and pay Birr 14,000.00 ($667) per month. I also bought a Suzuki Vitara car, employed three people in my business.  My children go to a private school and they also have private tutors. 

My business capital has reached around a million Birr ($47,620). I still keep my membership at my cooperative as it is my foundation.
In the future, I am planning to shift this business to my sister and start engaging in a different business, which I don’t want to disclose for the time being.  
Before concluding, she told us the factors that helped her to become successful. She enumerated the following as major ones.
·         My burning passion to engage in business is the first and foremost contributing factor for my success.
·         I took 12 trainings in Business and other subjects at WISE. These equipped me with the necessary knowledge and skills at various levels.
·         The access to financial services from my Cooperative and Union also helped me to expand my business.
·         I use my time appropriately and effectively.  I spend most of my time on things that add value to my business.
·         I am a visionary and risk taking person. I believe I have the ability to change problems into opportunities.
·         I usually prioritize tasks with clear plans. This helps me to be organized and accomplish my goal.
·         To achieve my vision, I sacrifice my leisure time and other social issues for my work. I believe this has also contributed to my success tremendously.
·         Last but not least, I am blessed with a very supportive husband.  He shares in every domestic chore, especially in taking care of the children. This helps me to focus on my business.  He always encourages and supports me in every direction. If I have work I need to take care of, he stays with me in the shop until midnight.

Finally, I would like to thank WISE for giving me this golden opportunity to help me become a successful business woman. 


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 Intenrational Education (IIE), Ethiopia Office 

For more on IIE , ACE or WISE please follow the links below.