Crowdfunding to rebuild conflict affected women-led businesses in northern Ethiopia

September 21, 2023

Medina Durgusa from Megale Afar with her four children


Yetimwork Ibrahim, a 30-year-old mother of two, ran a tea house in the Amhara region, northern Ethiopia to support her family along with her husband who is a day laborer. However, the two-year-long conflict in northern Ethiopia changed the course of her and her family’s life. She had to flee her hometown to avoid the conflict only to come back to her tea house in ruins, and all the equipment and supplies they had invested in were destroyed.

Atsbeha Kahsai, 56, a farmer from Hauzen Tigray, experienced a similar fate to Yetimwork. Fleeing from the conflict, Atsbeha came back to her farm in ruins with her cattle gone, and her beehives destroyed.

A trader from Megale Afar, Media Durgusa, 27, lost her husband in the conflict and became the sole provider for her four children overnight. 

These women coming from three neighbouring regions face similar challenges in the wake of the conflict. What unites them is not only their loss but their tenacity and determination to build back what they have lost and support their families. 

What are we doing?

UNDP along with 17 other UN agencies in Ethiopia is working on a peace support facility to recover, rehabilitate and reconstruct the conflict-affected region in northern Ethiopia with a broad spectrum of interventions, including economic recovery.  

UNDP-Ethiopia has launched “Rebuild HER Business” crowdfunding campaign designed to support women who are striving to rebuild their businesses after the conflict in northern Ethiopia, recognizing the necessity to give specific attention to women entrepreneurs who face many challenges, especially in post-conflict settings that reinforce existing gender-based discrimination and inequality. 

UNFPA Country Representative Mr. Koffi Kouame, Major Athlete Haile Gebreselassie and UNDP Resident Representative Mr. Turhan Saleh, at the launch of the crowdfunding campaign, August 17th, 2023.

Yohannes Balcha/UNDP-Ethiopia

The campaign is seeking to raise US$500,000 to support 1,000 women with a US$500 capital fund in the three regions with all the funds raised in this campaign directly given to the women as a capital fund and operational costs covered by UNDP and our partners. 

The crowdfunding campaign was officially launched on 17 August 2023 in partnership with the Great Ethiopian Run (GER). The GER is a globally renowned road race organiser that comes into this crowdfunding campaign with a strong track-record in outreach around partnering with UNDP and the rest of the UN to promote the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and fundraise for local worthy causes. The Rebuild Her Business campaign will benefit from the “Running for Cause” charity initiative linked with the annual 10k race to be held in November 2023.

Why a crowdfunding campaign? 
The resource mobilization needed for the recovery and rehabilitation project is huge and traditional resource mobilization strategies will not be enough to bridge the funding gap. Therefore, the Accelerator Lab is experimenting with the first crowdfunding campaign for UNDP-Ethiopia. 

The Accelerator Lab is collaborating internally with the Innovative Finance Lab (IFL) and the Development Communication & Advocacy Hub to create a learning opportunity for the UNDP-Ethiopia to experiment with alternative and unusual resource mobilization tools to support MSMEs.

Tsehay Teshome from south wolo, Amhara region in her breakfast shop


The women and the businesses we will be supporting through the “Rebuild Her Business” campaign, are not just providers for their families but create community ties that are essential to bringing a sense of normalcy to communities that are recovering from conflict. Building back the economic fabric in recovering communities goes a long way in creating lasting and sustainable peace. 

In addition, the empowerment of women especially those who are severely disadvantaged and in hard-to-reach places is key to the success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We can only achieve inclusive economies, justice and a sustainable environment with the active involvement and empowerment of women. 

As UNDP we know the need for development support to be given alongside humanitarian support during conflict recovery. Like any of us, communities, and women in conflict-affected regions long to recover and be self-sufficient. 
Supporting this cause is creating an opportunity for these women to build back their businesses, regain their success of the past and raise their families with the hope of a bright future. 

What is Next?
UNDP and partners will aggressively promote the campaign as per the communication and outreach plan that is aimed at informing various stakeholders at the national and international levels including the diaspora with a consistent and timely flow of information and accessible content about the fundraising campaign. The team has identified effective communication channels such as the UNDP website and social media channels (Facebook, Telegram, Twitter, LinkedIn, TikTok and Google Ads). In addition, the team will conduct offline communication campaigns using different events like the Great Ethiopian Run to promote the initiative to local stakeholders including individual donors, multinational corporations, and philanthropies. 

Moreover, the implementation of the crowdfunding will be monitored on a regular basis throughout the campaign period to check if the implementation is on track, highlight any issues related to the crowdfunding, accountability to beneficiaries, and operations and provide updates to donors.