After conflict, rebuilding women-run businesses in Ethiopia

September 5, 2023
woman and children

Median Durgusa from Megale Afra with her four children.

Photo: UNDP Ethiopia

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

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

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

These women coming from three different regions, face similar challenges. What unites them in not only their loss is their tenacity and determination to build back 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 with a broad spectrum of interventions, including economic recovery.   

UNDP Ethiopia has launched the crowdfunding campaign “Rebuild HER Business” to support women entrepreneurs. 

three men holding sign

UNFPA Resident Representative Koffi Kouame, Major Athlete Haile Gebreselassie and UNDP Resident Representative Turhan Saleh at the launch of the crowdfunding campaign.

Photo: UNDP Ethiopia

It is seeking to raise US$500,000 to support 1,000 women with a $500 capital fund in the three regions. 

The crowdfunding campaign was officially launched in August, in partnership with Great Ethiopian Run (GER). The GER  is a race organizer who comes into this campaign with a strong track record in outreach promoting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and fundraising for local causes. The Rebuild HER Business campaign will benefit from the “Running for Cause” charity initiative linked with its annual 10 kilometre race in November. 

Why is it important? 

The peace agreement that was reach in November 2022, was a glimmer of hope for many as they start the recovery process. However, peace can be fragile after a conflict such as in Ethiopia that resulted in huge devastation and destruction of both lives and infrastructure. It is crucial for the communities involved to see and feel that there is an immediate payoff to the peace process and that those displaced can return to their lives.  

woman cooking breakfast

Tsehay Teshome from South Wolo, Amhara region working in her breakfast shop.

Photo: UNDP Ethiopia

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 brining a sense of normalcy to communities that are recovering from conflict. Building back the economic fabric in recovering communities, go a long way in creating a lasting and sustainable peace. 

In addition, 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.

What can be your impact?

As UNDP we know the need for development support to be given alongside humanitarian support during conflict recovery. Like anyone of us, communities and women in conflict affected region long to recover and be self-sufficient. 

Supporting this cause is creating an opportunity for these women to build back their business, regain their success of the past and raise the families with the hope of a bright future.