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Cordaid NL
Private Sector Development

Supporting female entrepreneurs and businesses owned and run by women

As part of its Resilient Business Development Services (RBDS) program, Cordaid offers training and business planning to 149 Small and Medium Enterprises. Part of this program puts a targeted focus on female owned businesses and entrepreneurs, in light of the unique challenges they face in accessing finance and the private sector. So far, a total of 64 female-owned enterprises have received training, coaching, and mentorship in order to help them take their businesses off the ground.

(Addis Ababa, August 2018. AT Textile is one of the SMEs in Cordaid’s RBDS program in Ethiopia. © Mickael Franci / Cordaid))

Women in entrepreneurship

Jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities encourage civil participation, keep individuals away from conflict, and foster permanent solutions for generating sustainable prosperity. Marginalised groups can be particularly vulnerable from being excluded from these opportunities in the private sector.

I’m happy to have a job… My husband also works but it happens sometimes that he is without an income. Then my family can rely on my income. But it’s not only that. I also want to work to stay active and keep myself occupied.

Woynshet Birru, clothes-maker at AT Textile, Ethiopia

In some cases, one of such groups at risk of exclusion is women. As they often have limited access to land and property ownership, women are on average less likely to receive the loans and financial investment needed to help their businesses to flourish. There are also bureaucratic hurdles to investment, such as demands for bribes, inefficient judicial systems, and disregard for rules at the local level. While affecting both men and women, these constraints hit women in particular. Cordaid’s entrepreneurship programme launched in 2015 aims to remove these obstacles, by placing a strong emphasis on female entrepreneurs and supporting female owned businesses. This encouragement of the growth and participation of female entrepreneurs helps to rebuild trust and enhance social cohesion through their increased participation.

Cordaid’s work

Cordaid provides 149 small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) – 64 of which are female owned – with training, technical assistance and mentorship to help them along their journey of attracting investors and growing their businesses. This provides individuals with the tools to lift themselves out of poverty, while opening employment opportunities for the local community and increasing access to decent livelihoods through economic empowerment.

Stimulating healthy business and job creation in Sierra Leone

In 2018, Cordaid collaborated with several partners to implement the Resilient Business Development Programme in Sierra Leone. This involved nine months of interactive business training, coaching, peer learning and advisory services to local female owned enterprises. One of the participants in this programme was Juliet Lavaly Amabebe; she runs Parene Healthcare, an organisation committed to providing access to affordable basic health care for all Sierra Leoneans.

Through Cordaid’s entrepreneurship programme, Juliet’s company identified a strong vision and mission for the business’ future. The company plans to open two new clinics in rural communities of Sierra Leone, giving populations access to primary healthcare without needing to travel long distances, and offering increased employment opportunities for local midwives and nurses.

Parene Healthcare, Sierra Leone. © Ngozi Cole / Cordaid

Creating resilient businesses in Ethiopia

Cordaid has supported 35 female-owned businesses across Ethiopia. One of these is EthioGreen. This small factory run mostly by women who specialise in baking Yagerbet Injera, a typical Ethiopian flatbread. The bread is made from teff, a gluten-free and protein-rich grain native to the country that many see as the next superfood. Rahel Moges is the female General Manager at EthioGreen. She hopes to use the training and support she received through Cordaid to become a top exporter to the Ethiopian diaspora in the United States.

Cordaid’s coaching really took us forward in what we need to do as an exporter, how to manage the inland revenue systems, and how we do our documentation.

Rahel Moges, General Manager at EthioGreen

Making Yagerbet Injera in the small factory of EthioGreen, Ethiopia. © Mickael Franci / Cordaid

Working towards a bright future in Kabul

In Afghanistan, Cordaid and its partners are implementing the Bright Future programme. This programme boosts the business ecosystem while focusing on young jobseekers, start-ups and existing small and medium enterprises (SMEs). One of these SME owners is Miss Fahima, owner of Salow Product Company that specialises in manufacturing clothing.

While Fahima started with female dresses and accessories, the business acceleration programme helped her to broaden her company’s strategy. She now produces clothing and accessories for both men and women. Fahima has received training on business development activities, customer management, bookkeeping, and business planning. Her business now works on larger orders, such as uniforms for local schools.

Miss Fahima and her clothing business, Kabul. © Mike Sips / Cordaid

Watch the videos on our support of SMEs in Ethiopia and Sierra Leone, or read more on Cordaid’s work in Private Sector Development.