UNSG visits Entrepreneurship Intervention for Women and Female Youth

Jul 15, 2015

UN Secretary General Bank Kii-moon with Ethiopian First Lady Roman Tesfaye with female weaver. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

United Nations Secretary General Ban Kii-moon visited a UNDP supported entrepreneurship development project that trains and equips Ethiopian women and female youth from vulnerable backgrounds to access the export market in traditional hand-weaving, spinning, embroidery, crotchet, and hand-knitting, as well as basketry, gemstone jewelry and leather works.

The secretary general was accompanied by his Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning, Ms. Amina Mohammed. 

Ethiopia’s First Lady Roman Tesfaye was also on hand to join the site tour of the project, which was launched by her office back in February 2014 in partnership with the Center for Accelerated Women Economic Empowerment (CAWEE) and the Entrepreneurship Development Centre- Ethiopia to target 1,500 women and female youth.

Prior to joining this project, the women, mostly engaged in collecting and selling fire-wood, earned on average monthly income of less than US$20; their income has on average increased four-fold and is expected to grow further as they hone their skills further and expand their access to markets. 

Single mother of three, Aselefech Abebe, is one of the women who have benefited from this project. Aselefech is a former soldier who fled to Sudan and lived there as a refugee for five years following the change in government back in 1991. Upon her return to Ethiopia she married a weaver and had three daughters. When her husband suddenly passed away, Aselefech found herself without any skills to enable her to make a good living for her young family earning only 8 birr (around US 40cents) a day.

Speaking at the launch of the project, Ambassador David Usher of Canada, had underlined the importance of unleashing the potential of women entrepreneurs, noting that “Access to information and markets are the biggest challenges for many of the female entrepreneurs”.

Canada is a key partner of an Entrepreneurship Development Programme (EDP) that was developed by UNDP in partnership with the Ministry of Urban Development, Housing and Construction. The programme is implemented by the newly established Entrepreneurship Development Centre-Ethiopia in collaboration with the government Federal Micro and Small Enterprise Development Agency (FeMSEDA).  The EDP was officially launched in 2013 by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn.

The EDP provides budding Ethiopian entrepreneurs with entrepreneurship training and business development services. So far, over 21,000, 35% female and 60% youth, have gone through the intensive entrepreneurship trainings provided across the country. Over 5,000 new and existing businesses have also been supported through the business development service. A new partnership with five public universities around the country is leading to the set up centres of excellence for entrepreneurship targeting students as a means of tackling graduate unemployment rates.

In 2014 UNDP signed a collaborative agreement with Microsoft East Africa Limited to enhance development activities in the areas of entrepreneurship through helping 200,000 Ethiopian entrepreneurs have access to tools and expertise. 

UN Secretary General’s visit to the UNDP supported project came on the sidelines on the third financing for development conference held in Addis Ababa 13-16 July 2015.

 women weavers encourage UN Secretary General Ban Kii-moon tries his hand at spinning. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

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