About Us

The Center for Accelerated Women’s Economic Empowerment (CAWEE) was established in 2004, being one of the pioneer trade promotion organizations operating in the country, providing promotional and capacity building support service targeting women exporters involved in Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs).


As a trade promotion organization, CAWEE provides different kinds of support services to its members: trainings in international trade, Business development Services (BDSs), facilitating market linkages, access to finance, organizing action oriented researches, policy dialogue & advocacy forums and organizing trade missions & trade fairs.

Our Vision

The vision of CAWEE is to create a globally competitive core women entrepreneurs class in Ethiopia.

Our Mission

  • Promote Ethiopian women entrepreneurs, with a special focus to women exporters, both existing and potential/emerging exporters;
  • Build the capacity of women entrepreneurs through training, advisory services/business counseling, product development, mentoring, information sharing, etc.;
  • Facilitate market linkages for women entrepreneurs by creating cooperation and collaboration with international buyers and international institutions,
  • Undertake action oriented researches to address the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs.

About the Founder

Nigest Haile (Dr.) - Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Accelerated Women’s Economic Empowerment (CAWEE)

Nigest is an activist in the promotion of women entrepreneurs, with particular focus to women exporters. She has 23 years experience working in the Ethiopian Ministry of Trade and Industry, at different capacities. In 2004, she founded CAWEE, a pioneer trade promotion organization working in Ethiopia and beyond, providing promotional and capacity building support service targeting women exporters. 


CAWEE was the implementing organization of the economic empowerment project of the Office of the First Lady of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE): “Connecting 1,500 Women and Young Girls to the Export Market”. Nigest was the Lead Coordinator, where in this project grassroots women were provided marketable skills and were connected to high end domestic as well as export markets.


In facilitating export market, in bring buyers to Ethiopia as well as taking trade missions of women entrepreneurs to different counties, Nigest has played crucial role, where in the past few years, she was able to organize such trade missions to 21 countries – Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, Germany, Kenya, Mexico, Mongolia, Netherlands, Niger, Norway, Rwanda, South Africa, Sweden, Tanzania (Zanzibar), Turkey, UAE, UK and USA.

Nigest received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology (major) and Sociology (minor) from the Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia and her Post Graduate Diploma in Globalization and Development, from the Institute of Social Studies (ISS), The Hague, Netherlands. She also was able to get trained in women’s entrepreneurship development and other relevant areas of enterprise development and export promotion in different countries and has different diplomas and certificates. Nigest secured her Executive MBA from Quantic School of Business & Technology in February 2022, USA. Nigest also received her Honorary Doctorate from Rai Technology University, December 2022, India.

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Nigest is actively involved in conducting different kinds of action oriented researches, focusing on women in business and was able to publish a book compiling the findings of five different researches on ‘Challenges Affecting Women in Business. In the research ‘Strengthening Women-to-Women Business Market Linkages: Lessons from Experience’, Nigest led the research team.

Nigest received award from the Department of State, USA, in recognition of her extraordinary contributions to the development of women-led businesses, she was also selected by The International Alliance for Women (TIAW), Canada, as a TIAW Award Winner for the Year 2012, for all the great works she does to economically empower women.  Nigest Haile has also received a Pan-African Award in 2012, by the UN Women and ILO, in recognition of her participation and support of Women’s Entrepreneurship Development in the African continent. She was also the 2015 award winner of the AWiB (Association of Women in Boldness) Women of Excellence Award in Ethiopia. In September 2017, Nigest received the “Enabler of Vision” award in New York from the Center for Economic and Leadership Development during the International Conference on Gender & Sustainability. In 2017, Nigest also started serving as Global Ambassador for the Vital Voices, USA mentorship program. Starting April 2017, Nigest serves as the Executive Committee member (Treasurer) of the African Community of Practice (AfCoP). In March 2018, Nigest received the “Women Stop Hunger Award”, in Paris, France. In September 2019, Nigest received Global Woman Leadership Award in Jabalpur, India and Hamlin Awards in September 2019 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Nigest Joined G100 (Global 100 Women Influencers Group), in being Global Chair, Global Trade in May 2022.

Nigest is one of the promoters and founders of the first women’s commercial bank, named as “ENAT Bank” in Ethiopia and served as the board member of the bank for three rounds, i.e. for nine years.
Nigest is member of other different boards, jury (Ex: jury member at the Sub-Saharan Africa Jury of the Cartier Women’s Initiate Awards: 2010 – 2017), platforms and networks, both locally, regionally and internationally (ex: member of the African Women Leaders Network, Executive Council member of the African Community of Practice, member of Sisters in Charge International – SiCi, based in Helsinki, Finland), Focal Person for Ethiopia, 2005-2013, for the ACCESS! Program (Access for African Business Women in International Trade), International Trade Center executed program. She is also the Advisory Board Member of the Global Economic Forum for Women in Africa. Nigest also serves as Board member at the Healing Hands of Joy, international NGO that works on Fistula, USA, Trustee at Hailemariam & Roman Foundation, Ethiopia and Trustee at Opportunity International, UK.

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Board Members

Following CAWEE’s membership in different sectors, the Center’s Board is structured in representing members in the respective sectors. Thus, the five CAWEE Board members represent in the Board their respective sectors.

Managing partner of Brand Travel Services Plc. & Event, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Dehab Mesfin is the Owner and Manager of Diamond Coffee Enterprise.

Owner of Next Fashion Design College, the first private fashion school in Ethiopia

Asegedech has had over 30 years experience in the financial and economic sector.

Meron Seid is the Owner and Creative Director of Meron Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

CAWEE Targets Women in Export in the Following Six Sectors:

  1. Agribusiness – Coffee (Specialty green, roasted and ground coffee), Honey, Milk and Milk Products, Food (enriched foods, gluten free products and spices).
  1. Textiles/Garment/Hand-weaving/Hand-made Shoe,
  1. Leather (with a focus to fashion accessories and give away items),
  1. Gemstones and Jewelry
  1. Furniture Manufacturing & Home Decor (with a focus to import substitution and home made traditional items)and
  1. Services – Tourism, hospitality, training, consultancy, construction, architectural services, agro-food lab, legal services, home décor/furnishing, etc.