Dr. Mitslal Kifleyesus-Matschie

I feel that the 21st century is a women’s century.

Hi. I am Mitslal Kifleyesus-Matschie an Ethiopian social entrepreneur producing organic foods and beauty products. I am 48 years old. I have two wonderful kids and I have helped make my husband successful as well.

I hold a PHD in international relations and I am part of an organization for the prohibition of Chemical Weapons. In 2013 we won the Nobel Peace Prize for our exceptional commitment.

I started my organization Ecopia - Ecological products of Ethiopia - more than 10 years ago. All of our products are organic, hand made and help a community. What makes it special is the fact that it is a “social-for-profit” company. Through this concept I am able to reinvest into the company each year in another part of the country and help local farmers grow their business.

For each product the name reflects the name of the local community. You can trust and track all of our products back to the farmers and the hands that produced it. We agree on the margin of profit on each product with the farmers personally.

"We are not fair trade certified, but actually far beyond."

Dr. Mitslal Kifleyesus-Matschie

By now Ecopia has been able to design, process and market 54 products. Making profit is difficult when working organically and seasonally - so we decided to make the most out of each raw material we have. For example, when producing a mango jam we use the mango seeds for producing a body scrubs, soaps and oils. Through this we do not only maximize our outcome but also reduce our food waste.

"I feel that the 21st century is a women’s century."

Dr. Mitslal Kifleyesus-Matschi

Women entrepreneurs are more keen to be social. They focus on humanely production. Women entrepreneurs want to have happy employees. In Ethiopia two thirds of the economy is run by women – mainly by SME’s. But we work in the horizontal investment line – connected to your food, your daily needs.

"As a women entrepreneur you have a big vision but still take care of the details. And more than anything else you take care of the people."

Dr. Mitslal Kifleyesus-Matschie

In the Ethiopian competition field men do not notice women entrepreneurs. They only notice you when you are exporting.

"As a women entrepreneur you don’t ask men for money. You ask for decisions."

Dr. Mitslal Kifleyesus-Matschie

UNIDO assisted me through several aspects. It helped me to overcome my own weaknesses – to articulate the vision and not to be busy with sales. Secondly the discussions with UNIDO highlighted the importances to distinguish between me as a person and the needs of the company. Also they helped me to see and communicate with man on an equal level which was an important step to take.

In a five years time, I want to take the position of body shop. I want to give all my customers the chance to be connected to the products they use – to know the story behind. Spiritually, physically and emotionally.

What I want to tell everyone about starting their own company. Start your company in the kitchen and have a healthy relationship with the product. Have a story with your product and value your story. What makes me smile.... I love my life. I am a very successful, happy women. I am one of the very few people that can buy time. After six o’clock I talk about me.

Find more information about me and my company. ECOPIA - Ecological products of Ethiopia http://www.ecopia.de

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  • rozw

    I hope that the 21st century will be the century of women because we tried to get the ball rolling in the 20th century. P

  • unido_focuson

    @rozw so true on that. we are very positive it is!!! :)

  • rozw



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