Fantu Alemayehu is a young woman member of a saving and credit cooperative established in Galan town, a peri urban area in Oromia region of Ethiopia.
She recalls how the training she received in Basic Business and Life Skills and the 3,000 Birr (86 USD) loan she received three years ago transformed her life and that of her family.
“Sixteen years ago, I dropped out of school from grade eight and migrated from a rural area in Gojam to Addis Ababa seeking for a better life. I worked as a housekeeper for eight years earning a meagre income,” she said. “I didn’t see improvement and any better prospect in this role. Thus, I decided to pursue a different path in my life, and I got married. Although my husband, a breadwinner, was very supportive, his little income was not enough to meet our ends meet.”
When the Gender Transformative Climate Smart Agriculture and Agri-Business (CSAAB) program was launched by UN Women and SOS Sahel Ethiopia in Galan Town, Fantu became one of the beneficiaries. The program, among others, facilitated a loan to targeted beneficiaries like Fantu.
Fantu started her small business through selling vegetables and seedlings. As her hard work bore fruit, Fantu managed to expand her business into an animal fattening. “Today, I am not economically dependent on my husband’s income.”
After making herself economically empowered, Fantu also realized her dream of having a second child, “When I gave birth to my first child six years ago, my husband and I felt the burden to live on the little income increased.
As a model woman in her community, Fantu also awarded 25,000 Birr after winning a business competition for successfully using the 3,000 Birr loan and timely repaying. This motivated her to expand her business and to contribute more to her community. “Since I became beneficiary of the program, I have saved 40,000 Birr, including the cash from the award. If I sale the six sheep I currently own, I estimate to have 50,000 Birr or more. My short-term plan is to purchase goats and fatten them for sale, as they take shorter time to breed. I will continue to support the community through sharing my experience and by providing them with improvedcabbage seedlings,” Fantu said.
She added that her husband, Buziye Yibeltal, is one of the reasons behind her success. He supports her in the household duties, including cooking after receiving a training on Male Engagement and Gender Model Family offered under the program.
UN Women in collaboration with SOS Sahel Ethiopia has been applying the approach to four cooperatives and enterprises with 200 members who have 1000 family members. The cooperative in Galan Town has fifty-four members. The cooperative members managed to save 190,000 Birr through a weekly contribution of 100 Birr by each member. This is helping more members to borrow from the revolving fund and to invest in various businesses to improve their livelihoods and that of their families.