Connecting Ethiopian Women Entrepreneurs to the Export Market

Feb 17, 2014

Gender gap is costing Africa billions each year UNDP Resident Representative Eugene Owusu told participants

Ethiopia’s First Lady Her Excellency Roman Tesfaye has launched a project that will connect 1,500 women involved in handicrafts and fashion items to the export market.

The launch of the joint two-year project was held on 17 February 2014 at the Prime Minister’s Office and brings together the Centre for Accelerated Women’s Economic Empowerment (CAWEE) and Federal Micro and Small Enterprise Development Agency (FeMSEDA) in close collaboration with the Entrepreneurship Development Centre (EDC).

The new project seeks to economically empower women by providing them with marketable technical skills to meet demands of international buyers, developing their self-confidence and improving their negotiation capacity through trainings at CAWEE and the EDC.  

The focus will be on the value-chains of six different sub-sectors with tangible results expected  to go beyond  the lives of the 1,500 women beneficiaries and  impact the families of those targeted women trainees, a target group around  7,000-9,000 household members.

UNDP has been supporting Ethiopia to take an important step to promote entrepreneurship development and increase the role of women in economic life of the country.

Investing in empowering women is sound economics UNDP Resident Representative Eugene Owusu stressed, highlighting that, “A recent study by the UNDP’s Regional Bureau of Africa found that the gender gap costs Africa 60 billion USD in potential output each year. That figure equals about half of the global ODA last year.”

A vibrant private sector, supported and populated by skilled entrepreneurs, can create jobs, boost wealth, and help reduce poverty, providing Ethiopia with a solid foundation for future growth and a tax base which can be used to invest in critical areas such as education, health and social welfare.

 “30% of small and medium sized enterprises are either managed or owned by women, “said Mr Gebremeskel Challa, the Director of FeMSEDA who stressed that, “This force needs to be assisted and its capacity needs to be developed.”

Ambassador David Usher of Canada, echoed the importance of unleashing the tremendous potential women have as entrepreneurs and address the obstacles they face when establishing and running their businesses. He noted that, “Access to information and markets are the biggest challenges for many of the female entrepreneurs”.

The Connecting 1500 Women to Export to the Export Market project seeks to address these challenges and scale up efforts to economically empower female entrepreneurs given the strong role of women in communities and contribution to the labour force and ability to work with little resources. Economically empowering women can also help boost not only their own but also their families’ income and bolster the growth and development of their communities.

Bethelihem Tamene

Programme Specialist   

(Private Sector and Entrepreneurial Development)  

Economic Growth & Poverty Reduction Unit

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