Carpentry Queen Kebebush Temsegen

“Participating in the bazaars has been the major turning point for my business.”

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Kebebush Temsegen, 40 Ethiopia Carpentry Storyline

Kebebush Temsegen lives in the Arada sub-city of Addis Ababa.  She is 40 and a mother of four. She has been the major breadwinner for her family since her husband, Fekade, got hurt during a peacekeeping mission in South Sudan four years ago. His pension is not good enough to make ends meet.

Kebebush was originally participating in a group producing baltina (traditional foodstuffs and spices) but her income was meagre.  She therefore decided to learn the skill of studded stool making from a nearby workshop – not a common trade for an Ethiopian woman. She buys the skeleton of the stool from woodwork houses and then does the finishing and upholstering herself.  However, she found marketing her product a challenge.  She explains: “I was on the brink of quitting. I only had one regular customer who resold the stools and I was selling around 20 stools per month.

photo: Michael Tsegaye/CARE                  

However, her participation in a project by CARE helped her to stay on track. She took a ten-day training course, which included her favourite topic - business promotion and customer handling.  Following the training Kebebush focused on improving the quality of her product and enhanced her marketing through printed business cards.  She also took part in four bazaars organised by the project.  She adds: “Participating in the bazaars has been the major turning point for my business. In a recent bazaar alone I sold 50 stools. I also found new customers and business connections.” 

Now Kebebush sells an average of 70 stools per month, with an increased profit, partly because of direct customer sales.  She adds: “I found the way to increase my sales and regular customers.”  Kebebush is now able to hire other carpenters to support her work and her increased income means she can support her 19-year-old daughter, Berhane, through university education.  She saves every week through the Village Savings & Loans Association which she participates in through the project, as well as through Ekub (traditional Ethiopian financial cooperative).   She even has the financial freedom to now participate in social activities.

She concludes: “I’ll try my best to further improve the quality of my products, and I plan to keep on taking part in relevant bazaars, even after the project ends.”