I’m a proud Ethiopian. I come from a family of seven girls and three boys. My father was a self-taught lawyer, and my mother, who lost her mother when she was only thirteen, quit school and married my father. She was not happy about it, though, because she had a job, but my father stopped her from doing it. She had a lot of land with trees, but she was forbidden from doing anything with it. Her health wasn’t good, but she still taught eight of us. I went on to be the best student in the elementary school, but, unfortunately, I had little time to study since all of us girls had to do the household chores. And, at night we had to watch over each other because there was a family member who tried to rape us.
I learned from a very early age that all female children were taught to help with all the domestic chores: cooking, washing, cleaning the house, fetching water, helping in the farm, collecting wood for fuel, and anything else that needed to be done around the house. I didn’t realize that I and other girls were amazingly wonderful, then. No one had told us that. I hadn’t discovered my God given talents, yet, but I saw the fire in my heart, despite many brothers telling me and other girls, “You are the weakest creature in the world. You can’t contribute anything useful to your community. All you can do is to find a husband and give him a child or children.” I learned all that, by myself. I self taught myself dressmaking, home decor, jewelry, leather bag making, sales expertise, professional writing, teaching, poetry, painting, motivational speaking, and advising.
I want to see all girls go to school, and parents giving their children equal education. You see, I encourage and empower girls and women to be who they want to be now. I believe that when you prepare yourself to make an impact in your life, or in the community, you must prepare yourself first. Then, new opportunities suddenly appear from unexpected places… you see new friends who are walking the same path with you. Once you take a leap of faith to turn your life around and face life from a different perspective, all will be changed.
Before I established my own small workshop to produce leather products, I was hired by two private limited companies. I was eager to learn office management, teamwork, creating a good working environments, how to tackle problems, solving conflicts between employees, how to promote workers, customer care services, and anything else that would help me to create my own business. Even though the conditions at these two business was less than savory, I learned so much that I am able to utilize now in my business and elsewhere, such as how to be a great and empowering manager, great teamwork, conflict resolution, promoting employees appropriately, and giving equal opportunities and pay to both female and male workers (ensuring the paperwork is filled out properly for all employees so they are paid in a timely manner).
With my own, current business, I have trained seven women to make my handmade, leather bags. I personally price each bag, cut and pack the pieces, and then finish them off. Any girl or women who made a lot of bags, gets paid more. The eighth woman, who was my youngest sister, was the slowest, and she earned the least pay. Last year, I started designing recycled, plastic bags, too, because I’m also very passionate about sustainability. I always use pieces of recycled leather as straps for the knitted and crocheted bags, and never throw away any pieces of leather, knowing that they can be reutilized from something else, such as leather beads, bands, necklaces, and paintings. I was even able to help Fistula survivors at Hamlin Rehab recently by paying them for forty purses they had knitted.
I believe we should encourage workers who attract more customers, promote workers who are committed to bring positive change to the company, give credit and recognition to the workers with new and effective marketing strategies, and work with them closely to improve our businesses and reach new goals. I also think that If people work in same office and similar position, that they should be paid equally. Age, sex, relationship, and friendship shouldn’t be included when we promote or hire employees, and, furthermore, we shouldn’t have any reason to discriminate employees since this de-motivates employees.
I see strength around women in all managerial areas. They can sense and see dangerous situations well before others and know how to tackle these challenges wisely. They are good in peace making, negotiation, and creating warm working environments. They also encourage and motivate their teams to keep them running smoothly. Working with female managers is like this. Women can share problems, dream bigger, advice you on how to achieve more, and show you the way. Generally, they know how to make a strong bond with people around them, regardless of age or gender issues. And, even though you can work at the same company, female friendships can still exist. I think that when women are more prevalent in industries and companies in the future, a lot of people will benefit by having better job offers, less or no sexual harassment around the office, and a better working environment.
In addition, there are a few projects that I’m working on that are dear to my heart. One is Environment First which I am a co-founder. The Peace and Green Initiative for Africa (PGIA) is currently focused on a building at CMC compound that has more than 500 apartments, as well as running the “Walk and Pick” project, lead by the founder, Gash Tamiru. Every morning Gash carries a big plastic bag and gathers plastic bottles, bottle tops, and any plastic materials while he’s jogging. The children and teenagers are following his example to create a green and peaceful environment at the CMC. Also, PGIA made seed balls three times recently, as well as planted several trees in the same area. Gash Tamiru lives in this compound and creates great awareness around removing plastics, keeping the area clean, and making the playground clean and green, too.
Because I’m so passionate about children’s welfare, too, I intend to take over the management of an orphanage (that also empowered women and elderly people) which has served for more than twenty years, but is about to close down due to funding. I want to take over this business and continue to empower the village girls, women with fistula conditions, and train them and the less fortunate youth around the city to have better digital skills.
I am willing to share with any woman my knowledge and skills today. I plan to locate networks of donors, loaners, and supporters online and share my business plan to them. Down the road, I also want to open a training center to train women in different skills, such as digital and craftsmanship of various products so that I can help them to live their dreams and become financially independent. Also, there are a lot of young women in my area who want to go to college but have nobody to pay the school fee. I want those girls to be sent to higher education and live their dreams.
Voices of Women Worldwide Ethiopia/ FB
peace and green initiative for Africa/FB
climate change Africa and seed ball Ethiopia