The Center for Accelerated Women’s Economic Empowerment (CAWEE) held a project closing program at ShiroMeda on December 22,2015 in the presence of the First Lady H.E. Roman Tesfaye, UNDP Ethiopia Country Director Mr. Samuel Bwalya, Ms. Kati Csaba, Minister Counselor and Development Director at the Embassy of Canada and H.E. Mrs. Zenebu Tadesse, Minister of Women and Children Affairs and other invited guests. This project site was officially inaugurated on July 19, 2014.
The Office of the First Lady of Ethiopia, Center for Accelerated Women’s Economic Empowerment (CAWEE), UNDP, the Government of Canada, the Entrepreneurship Development Center have successfully concluded part of the pilot program of the project“Connecting 1,500 Women & Young Girls to the Export Market” that directly benefited 88 women, who are from low income households in the ShiroMeda area of Addis Ababa. Out of those trained women, 75 of them, were trained in three sectors (25 in hand spinning, 25 in hand weaving and 25 in embroidery, crotchet and knitting) with the support of UNDP. Thirteen (13) of the trainees in the sector of fabric dyeing and printing were trained with the support of the Government of Canada.
The women, most of whom have only received little or no education in their youth are housewives and former fuel wood carriers who were also financially dependent on their husbands. Joining this project about a year ago, the women have been trained in traditional hand spinning, weaving, embroidery, crochet works and knitting and fabric dying & printing.
On December 22, 2015, the trainees received certificates of graduation from the First Lady H.E. Roman Tesfaye, UNDP Ethiopia Country Director Mr Samuel Bwalya, Ms Kati Csaba, Minister Counselor and Development Director at the Embassy of Canada and H.E. Mrs Zenebu Tadesse, Minister of Women and Children Affairs.
With a budget of one hundred and fifty thousand USD ($150,000.00), CAWEE as the implementing partner provided marketable skills to the women in a training facility that is ‘first of its kind’, as described by the First Lady of Ethiopia, H.E. Mrs. Roman Tesfaye citing the added ‘value chain’ benefit of having the women work together in close proximity across the production process, the First Lady mentioning the production flow as “From Shiromeda to the International Fashion Hubs of New York, London, etc.”. Also noting that challenges had to be overcome to materialize this project, H.E. the First Lady assured graduates that capacity building support will continue as the women gain greater access for their products to both local and international markets.
At the graduation ceremony, in welcoming the invited guests and congratulating the trainees, the Executive Director of CAWEE Mrs. Nigest Haile, highlighted the uniqueness of this project in encouraging all the concerned development partners to take part in replicating such kinds of initiatives. Providing highlights of the project progress thus far, the project manager, Ms Tsilat Yewondwossen reported that the women have organized themselves into four business enterprises: Serto Meshashal Yefetil Association, Enat Yeshimena Association, Edilegnoch Yetilf Sira Association and Yemaleda Kokeb Association.
Serto Lemeshashal Yefetil Association specializes in spinning hand-spun Cotton consisting of 20 members while Enat Yeshimena Association brings together a group of 20 weavers. Edilegnoch Yetilf Sira Association consists of 10 women who received training in embroidery, crotchet works, hand and machine knitting and the last group Yemaleda Kokeb Association which has a membership of 10 women works on fabric dyeing & printing.
These four women’s enterprises have the capacity to produce a variety of products both as individual enterprises and also across the value chains level. In advancing forward, CAWEE and its partners will continue supporting the women to get connected to markets, where the women have already established business linkages with companies such as Sole Rebels, Salem’s Design, Negist Ethiopia, Muya Ethiopia, Paradise Fashion, Abugida Fashion, Little Gabies, Entoto Beth Artisans and other local and international companies.