"I Used to Borrow Dishes for Cooking, But Now I Work Hard to Have a Cafeteria”, - Bogalech Getahun

      Bogalech Getahun in Chagni town

          Photo/ Bogalech Getahun, 24, engage in sheep fattening, Chagni town.

Ethiopia faced political turmoil and ethnic conflicts, escalated by competition for scarce resources. These causal factors lead to ethnic tensions and irregular migrations in the country. In this case, the Amhara Region has hosted a large number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) and returnees recently. The migrants, particularly returnee women, faced numerous social and economic disorders, including being jobless and a lack of sexual and reproductive health services.

Bogalech Getahun, 24, was one of the victims of internal displacements due to ethnic conflicts. She was born in Bizrakani kebele in Gunagua woreda of Amhara Region, and currently she lives in 03 kebele, Chagni town. She learned high school in Chagni town by working daily labor along with her education, and unfortunately, she failed grade 10. As a result, she dreamed of having a better life in the Beneishangul Gumuze Region. She left Birzakane Keble in 2013 and went to Benishangul Gumuz Region, Dangur Woreda, and Dirsambi Kebele.

Bogalech’s life in Birsambi Kebele was awesome. She married Abera Fikadu, and she was working hard with her husband and leading a warm family. In Birsambi Kbele, while she was working in a café, her husband was engaged in farming by renting land. Hence, their life was going on the right journey. Unfortunately, in 2020, ethnic tension broke out and a dozen civilians were killed in her village. The local Gumuz militants killed the Amhara people and the Agew people in the workplace and around their homes with the so-called marking ‘white person, whom they considered to be migrants. In that conflict, she lost all her property. Therefore, she and her husband were displaced to the ‘Ranch Internally Displaced People Center.

The Ethiopian Defense Force controlled the area, and the government called them to return to their village. So, they returned to Birsambi Kebele from the Ranch IDP center. However, the ethnic conflict broke out for the second time, and Bogalech and her husband fled to the nearby Mambuk Town, where they were living by renting a house. But they could not afford their living costs since they lost their entire asset in the conflict. Finally, they divorced, and she did not know where her husband was. In the middle of 2020, when things got worse, she came back to her home land, Bizrakani Kebele of Guangua woreda. 

In 2020, Living without a job and being hopeless was a miserable time for Bogalech and her family. Her family is very poor, and she did not think of getting help from them. She said she had faced hypertension while thinking about her future and all the bad fortunes she faced.

The Amhara Region was hit by an increased level of vulnerability among population groups impacted by internal migrations that came from neighboring regions, Oromia and Benishaangul-Gumuz Regions, due to ethnic conflicts. As a result, the German Economic Commission (BMZ) funded ORDA Ethiopia’s Strengthening Self-Reliance Project in partnership with Plan International. Ethiopia began activities in Amhara Region 4 woredas (Gungua, Fagita Lekoma, Jawi, and Chagni Town Administration) in December 2021. It targeted 2,274 youths (1422 females) as vulnerable beneficiaries, including Bogalech Getahun, since she was an internal migrant.

Initially, she got ‘Work Ready Now’ (WRN) training to equip her with life skills for employability and to improve her motivation and confidence to prepare for employment. In addition, she was trained in ‘Be Your Own Boss’ training, which focused on the basic concept of business, characteristics of a successful full-time business owner, business ideas, marketing steps, financial management, saving, and business planning. These trainings ignited her energy to create her job. Even she said that the training allowance Ethiopian Birr (ETB) 1,500 gave to her was 100,000 birr worth because she had nothing at the moment (she flashed back on the situation and interrupted her talk with tears). 

The project supported her with ETB 25,000 in seed money for the startup. With the seed money she earned, Bogalech started sheep-fattening in 2023 at her brother’s house on the outskirts of Chagni town. In the first round, she bought four sheep from Jawi Woreda, where sheep are cheap (one for ETB 5,000, another for ETB 6000, another for ETB 4000, and the other for ETB 4,500). She takes care of the sheep based on the training. From the first round of sheep fattening, she sold the fattened sheep for 6000, 7000, 6,500, and 8000.

In the second round, she bought four sheep at the cost of each: ETB 5,500, ETB 8000, ETB 7,000, and ETB 7,500. She sold them for ETB 8000, ETB 6,800, ETB 6,500, and ETB 7,200. Totally, in the two rounds, she got ETB 60,000 in net profits. By the profit, she bought a milking cow for ETB 33,000. She continued her fattening for the third round and had bought four sheep at the cost of ETB 8,5000, ETB 6,300, ETB 6,500, and ETB 6,200.

Currently, Bogalech has secured her livelihood. She rents a dormitory with ETB 500 in Chagni town’s 03 kebele and carries out her sheep-fattening activities.

“I am having a good feeling now. I secured my livelihood. I lost my entire asset in Birsambi Kebele due to the ethnic violence. When I came to my home land, I had nothing except my clothes. Even I was borrowing dishes from others for cooking food (she cried). I do not have words to thank ORDA Ethiopia and the donor, BMZ. Thanks to the project staff that helped me improve my working skills. By working hard and having better capital, I will shift my business to a cafeteria," said Bogalech. 

Since December 2021, the project has provided Work Ready Now training for 2000 youths (1148 female), Be Your Own Boss training for 1225 youths (712 female), and Technical and Vocational training for 597 youths (349 female) in intervention woredas. It also supported ETB 34,875,000 in seed money for 1,395 youths (805 female), or ETB 25,000 for each. As a result, 1,480 youths (841 female) engaged in wage employment and self-employment: sheep fattening, coffee houses, cafés, restaurants, poultry production, metal work, shopping, wood work, gardening,Garment dairy production, pharmacy, petty trade, etc. In addition, 1,129 business enterprises were established, of which 906 are sole proprietorships and the remaining 223 are group ownership.

“ORDA Ethiopia Strengthening Self-Reliance Project played a great role in the job creation of many youths, particularly by providing training and seed money for businesses’s startup capital. Due to the project support, the Chagni town administration ranks first in creating jobs for youths among the Awi zonal administration woredas and town administrations. It accomplished its goal, particularly in Chagni twon," said Chagni Town Administration’s Labor and Skill Office Head, Ato Andualem Menkir.

Based on the success of creating jobs for youths and empowering them to be self-employed, the government office heads confirmed to us in the focus group discussion that we should scale up the approach to address other jobless youths in their respective working areas.

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