Starting from Scratch

“Engaging in business has been my dream since childhood.”

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Yetnayet Atenafu, 41 Ethiopia Food/Services Storyline

41-year-old Yetnayet Atenafu, is widowed and a mother of five. Following the death of her husband, she faced many challenges. She could no longer live with her parents-in-law, so moved in with her mother in the Piassa area of Addis Ababa, along with three of her children aged ten, four and seven months.

After her husband died, Yetnayet started life from scratch. Her older sons, aged 23 and 25 from her first husband, did not have the capacity to help her. So, Yetnayet used the skills she had learnt from her mother and started baking and selling Injera (traditional Ethiopian flatbreads), and making traditional coffee. She also received funding to buy a small washing machine, which she could use to generate further income.

However, Yetnayet struggled with trying to run all these businesses by herself. She also found record-keeping a challenge.  She was regularly unable to keep her coffee business going, adding:

“It was not easy for me to take care of my kids whilst handling the business. My customers were not happy with the interruption of my service. It was very difficult to keep them as regular customers and get new ones.”  

Luckily a new opportunity arose for Yetnayet. She heard about a training course run through CARE, funded by H&M Foundation. This 10-day training course taught Yetnayet new business skills, record keeping and she was trained in credit and saving. 

Following the training, Yetnayet hired a young woman for the coffee business, and created part-time job opportunities for another two people in her laundry business. This helped her to gain more from her businesses, as well as find time to take care of her children.

By setting up a profit-sharing agreement with the woman supporting the coffee business, they have been able to construct a small permanent coffee shop, which also now sells other drinks. This has resulted in more customers and an increase in profit.

Thanks to this new way of working, Yetnayet’s monthly net income has doubled! Yetnayet’s newfound business skills also helped her to win a prize at a business plan competition, organised by the project. She now saves every week and has many plans for the future. She wants to have a laundry house, and expand her other business. She also plans to support her older children to receive further education, so that they can get better jobs.