Ethiopia: Gambella Youths Becoming Pioneers in Self Employment

Gambella, Ethiopia, May 23, 2015 (GMN) - Ojulu Abdu 28, is chairman of Ognimal Youth Association in Gambella town. It was in 2004 E.C, he and his colleagues conceived the statute of their association. From its inception, the main objective of the association has been to reshape the mindset of youths and enable them to create their own jobs.

First, union members began works buying fruits and vegetables from wholesalers and vending it to Gambela town residents. The association that has 20 members now, is welcoming more members. "We brought fruits and vegetables from vendors, who transport it from the countryside to Gambella town on boats. Previously, such a menial job was subject to a scorn by peoples of Gambella" said Ojulu in an Exclusive Interview with The Ethiopian Herald.

When they knew the mango harvest is seasonal, association members engaged in preparing and selling traditional dishes. "After sometime, we are thinking to expand the business but we are constrained by space limitation. We are discussing the issue with Women, Children and Youth Affairs Bureau of the State. They have provided us a wide area near Openo (Baro) River," Ojulu said.

The association has been providing various services to Gambella town. Most residents cherish spending their spare time at the restaurant. This has created a good opportunity for the association to raise its capital day in and day out. If there is a high customer flow and sufficient supply of fish, we can collect up to 10,000 Birr per month. So far, we save 150,000 birr per year. The union has a fixed asset of 100,000 Birr capital. "We have no intention to share the capital we gained, rather we have a plan to engage in another big investment in the town," he explained.

Hirut Darge, 26, hails from Metu, Oromia State. She came to Gambella town in search of a job after she completed technical and vocational training in auto mechanics. While in Metu, she used to sell tea and coffee for her customers. "I had an opportunity for a job in my vicinity. But I came here in search of a better job. And I prefer doing this instead of sitting idle. But I could not get as much benefit I painted for myself when I left my home town. I prefer this job instead of engaging into another one."

She is helping herself preparing tea and coffee. I pay 350 Birr for house rent. She saves money via Equib (A rotator self aid association).She pays 500 Birr to her association per week; the cost does not include her expenditure for meal and other needs. Speaking about challenges she said "Sometimes, I face sexual harassment and violence at my work place. But I frown at such advances as I have my own interest--improving my life is my objective. “She has a plan to open her own grocery in the near future.

Gambella Town Mayor Chibe Chibe said that the small enterprise sector in the town has been thriving since 2006. We provide various assistance to the youth. Based on this support, various youths get organized in a given association. Commerce, city sanitation, car washing and other activities are being undertaken. They are more engaged in cobblestone layering and carving tasks. Regarding the river that crosses the town, youths are participating as casual workers. In the town, there are over 100 associations.

Of the total number of the associations organized under MSES, some of them are weak and dysfunctional. We are making an effort to reabsorb them. Supporting, encouraging as well as making follow tasks is expected from the government for the effectiveness of youths embraced under MSEs. The youth should make tireless efforts to change their lives as well as the livelihood of the community. As a town administration, we have constructed almost 10 shades and currently most associations are utilizing these shades. We are also facilitating loan for MSEs,Chibe said.

Source: The Ethiopian Herald.