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To start a business is one thing. But to make it profitable is another.

 

Arsema Fasil started making handmade bracelets as a hobby. Encouraged by her friends, she decided to turn her hobby into a business called Yeejuwan, meaning handmade in Amharic. But accessing the consumer market, and as a result, growth, became a challenge.

Market access is a bottleneck for most women-led businesses in Ethiopia. Many operate out of their home, as women are expected to continue to be bear the family duties. This limits their visibility, negotiation and networking ability, as well as access to information.

With the upcoming Opportunities for Youth Employment (OYE) International Conference in Addis Ababa, we look at how our OYE approach (push-match-pull-enable) helps young people start a business, coaches and mentors beginning entrepreneurs, and helps develop a conducive business environment.

Going beyond training

The Livelihoods Improvement for Women and Youth in Addis Ababa (LI-WAY) project, through its implementing partner, Ashengo, trained 76 enterprises on marketing, product presentation and customer handling.

Trained enterprises also participate in the Yenegew Bazaar, conducted the third week of every month. The bazaar is organised through a private-public partnership (PPP) between the event organiser Shenego plc, the Bureau of Job Creation, the Enterprise Bureau, and the LI-WAY project. The bazaar supports small (women-led) businesses to grow into profitable enterprises by helping them to develop their business network, promote their products, improve product quality, increase their sales and access media.

Average sales during the events have been EBT 170,000 (€ 3,150) from more than 600 customers on average. ‘It was a good opportunity for my business. I have got a lot of market linkages. I also increased the visibility of my business through face to face contacts, media and social media.’ Arsema says. Within half a day, she sold jewellery worth more than Birr10,000 (€ 200). In addition, she was chosen as the best exhibiter by bazaar visitors. She now envisions opening up her own shop and exporting her products.

The bazaar partners continue to provide needs-based business support (e.g., branding and scaling advice) to award-winners. As a winner of the ‘best exhibiter’ prize, Arsema received business advice to develop her own brand.

During the OYE International Conference, participants will reflect on these and other barriers that young entrepreneurs face as they pursue ambitions as wage earners or career entrepreneurs in high growth sectors.

Our expert

Jean Muthamia-Mwenda

Global Lead - Youth Employment & Entrepreneurship