“Empowering women to advance”
Hi. I am Rahel Moges, founder and general manager of EthioGreen, producing traditional Ethiopian injera, an Ethiopian staple food made from teff-flour.
I was born in Ethiopia but used to live in the United States, where I did not only finish my master’s degree in IT, but also started my injera business in Washington DC in 2008. I am saying this with pride because I was the first Ethiopian woman starting a business in the US in this market.
I started my business from scratch as a trial pilot project. In 2011, I moved back to Ethiopia to take direct control on the production on a local level, while expanding sales on the international level. Today EthioGreen has grown into a big company currently employing 43 people, 36 of which are women, which I am very proud of as well.
Injera is a very labour intensive product. Through automatisation we can produce on a far larger scale and create other positions for women and youth, for example in sales, accounting and so on.
We also noticed that teff is a versatile grain which lead us to the idea of producing a range of different foods with a longer shelf life to increase our exports and the market share. Besides managing my own company, I am also part of a women association - the African Women Entrepreneurship Program.
“To me a woman is the engine of economy and the youth is the one that will take over. Youth and women entrepreneurship goes hand in hand.”
The issue of women in business is the restriction in and allocation of time. Women are less likely to be seen at social events - which is where most business deals are actually made. If we strengthen our own networks, we can do the networking within our own circles - which is one of the goals of our association …
Currently the business environment is becoming more women-friendly. More services and support are provided to women and also youth, which is something we should take advantage of.
“Empowering women to advance”
In five years time, I want to outgrow the company of its current facilities and have our own top of the line facility meeting international standards. Besides producing automated injera we want to launch at least 5 other products. On top of this, we aim to step into farming to source our own teff grains. Like this we will be able to ensure the availability but also quality of our primary product.
Giving back to the community is very important to me. Through employing mainly women I can directly impact the whole family behind which most of the time consists of at least five people.
Furthermore, I developed a project with the local tourism board. Earnings from visits to our production site does not only strengthen the visitors’ connection to the culture but all earnings are directly dedicated to the education of our employees’ kids - a project we want to grow!
UNIDO assisted me in communication, in finding my needs and goals and to establish a business plan. They also assisted me in marketing and connecting with potential investors.
What I want to tell everyone starting a business ...
Understand yourself. Understand your strengths and your weaknesses. Then focus more on your strengths and find somebody to fill in your weaknesses. Don’t try to be everything.
"Never focus on a problem you currently have - focus on where you want to be."
What makes me smile... HOPE!
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