Changing Lives by Empowering Women

Teguaded Yehunie is a 38-year-old single mother of three living in Dendegeb Kebele, Baso Liben Woreda, of the Amhara region in Ethiopia. She makes a living by selling tea and other beverages in a rented home. Despite her being illiterate, she gives her kids the chance to go to school and manages to save 100 ETB per week from her sales. 

Due to her low earnings, Teguaded was chosen by the kebele level committee to become one of the 25 members of Yabebal Self-Help Group. Following the selection process, Digital Green offered training to all members, assisted in choosing leaders, and established bylaws. They were provided with additional materials, like cash boxes and financial documents, to facilitate the group functioning. In their weekly meeting, Digital Green staff members and woreda partners coach and teach about the benefits of self-help groups, including how they foster social cohesion, a culture of saving, and loan availability for income-generating activities. Initially, each member saved 25 ETB and 5 ETB for social funds each week. Thus, their capital amounted to 30,275 ETB, and a matching fund was given to the group. 

As a result of her participation in the group, Teguaded planned a business to buy Teff, the grain used to make “Injera,” an Ethiopian staple, so that she can cook meals for sale in addition to serving tea and local beer. She received a loan for 4,000 ETB with a 10% interest rate for two months, from which she made a 2000 ETB profit in less than two months and was able to pay back the loan.

She later applied and was approved for a 7,000 ETB loan for three months and expanded her business using the loan and her own capital. She used to serve tea and local beer only, but now she has also managed to serve Injera, meals, and soft drinks. Prior to joining the self-help group, she could only save 100 ETB, and now she is saving 1000 ETB every week. She was able to pay back the loan again and is encouraged by Kebele leaders who regularly support her business by ordering meals when there is a meeting in the area.

As success continued, she applied for a third loan and was granted 10,000 ETB. Before, she always had the ambition of working on a large scale but had trouble getting loans. With the solution provided by the self-help group, she was able to realize her vision. She now advises others on the importance of using loan access and the difference that being in the self-help group has made in improving her livelihood. Today, she is a role model and inspiration for her group and community, and her success has inspired other women to want to join the group.