Rebuilding a life in Ethiopia – one piece of furniture at a time

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Rebuilding a life in Ethiopia – one piece of furniture at a time

There was a time, when he was younger, when Nigussie Demozie had been a successful furniture maker, crafting his wares from bamboo.

But his business, in the town of Robe in central Ethiopia, had faltered. Now in his 40s, he was earning almost nothing and struggling to feed his three children.

When he was offered an opportunity to enroll in Pact’s Yekokeb Berhan program, he saw it as the second chance his family needed. 

Yekokeb Berhan, which is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, uses a range of integrated interventions to improve the lives of vulnerable Ethiopian children. Among them is assistance that bolsters parents’ and caregivers’ ability to earn income.

Nigussie began receiving training through Yekokeb Berhan and then joined one of the program’s local savings and loans groups. Members are required to make small weekly savings deposits, which allows them to then take out loans from the group.

Nigussie worked hard to meet his minimum savings amount. Soon, he took his first loan – about $150, which he invested to restart his furniture business.

Slowly, demand for his products grew, as did his savings.

It took him three months to repay his first loan. He took a second one to grow his business even more, joining forces with a friend and experienced carpenter who agreed to teach him new skills. Eventually, they were doing well enough to need a wood-cutting machine, so Nigussie took a third loan to cover his half of the business expense.

Six months after the purchase, that loan was paid off too, and Nigussie was saving more of his income than ever.

Some of Nigussie's products.

Nigussie decided to remain a member of his savings and loan group, as he was earning interest on his savings and figured the time might come when he’d want to expand again.

He was nervous about managing his loans and business at first, but with the group’s support, he became more confident. Recently, he decided to start a new venture; he bought a dairy cow and hens that he and his wife are raising as part of a supplementary business.

He says life has improved for everyone in his family, especially his children, whom he can now take care of as he always wanted.

Asked about the secret to this success, Nigussie said, “It was hard work, taking advantage of opportunities, and the support provided by Yekokeb Berhan in the form of trainings, follow-up and technical assistance that made it all work.”

Nigussie has become an advocate for others in his savings and loan group and community.

He eagerly shares his story with friends and neighbors, hoping to inspire them to follow his example.

 

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