An unfortunate reality in Ethiopia is the fact that vast numbers of women find themselves alone with the responsibility of providing for their families. This is due to the loss of their husbands from abandonment or death from diseases such as HIV/AIDS and malaria. Many women have neither the education nor the skill to provide their families with the basic necessities. Studies show that when women are supported and empowered, all of society benefits. Their families are healthier, more children go to school, and communities become more resilient.
We believe that the healthiest way to lift women out of poverty is to help them help themselves. Over the past nine years, we have funded multiple women’s empowerment projects that have given over 300 women the opportunity to change their lives. It is a one-time “hand-up” versus an ongoing “hand-out.” Through this sustainable program women are given training and capital to start a small business. Plus, they are enrolled in an ongoing monthly support group where they get continued education, make friends, and share the challenges they have faced being single, abandoned, and marginalized. It empowers them to earn their own income. Our past projects include sewing and handicrafts, livestock husbandry, agricultural crops, and urban small business. Today these women have a more positive self-image, and most importantly they have an income that allows them to better care for their families and send their children to school.
Our biggest success story is Alemitu. In 2011, we funded our second women’s empowerment project. Alemitu was one of several women who went to sewing school and received financial training to help her start a small business. By 2019, due to years of hard work, saving, and commitment, Alemitu owns a small restaurant and grocery store in Shanto, Ethiopia. She is a model for women who find themselves in an extremely difficult situation.