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Small money can give a big change

Mamitu Gashew.

A self-help-group in Ethiopia changed Mamitu Gashaw's life. Today, she runs a small business and provides for her family. And she and her husband are equals now, she claims.

27.05.2015 Av: Utviklingsfondet

Mamitu is from Wacho village in Shewarobit Woreda (District) in the Amhara Region in Ethiopia.

She is one of the 20 members of a women “self-help group” (SHG).

The group meets on a weekly basis to save money, talk about climate change and to help each other if someone is sick, have been giving birth or face other challenges.

The SHG is a part of a project implemented by Women Support Association (WSA), funded by Development Fund of Norway (DF) through FOKUS. The project has ended.

Mamitu Gashew
Mamitu Gashew

Mamitu has been a member for 2 years now and have managed to save 1200 Birr, about 460 NOK. Normally she saves 20 Birr per week.

One year ago Mamitu took a loan of 1000 Birr (about 385 NOK) from the SHG to start cultivating onions. Previously she could not afford to grow such vegetables because the seeds were too expensive.

She managed to get a profit of 2000 Birr (about 770 NOK) after the loan was repaid.

She took a new loan in August 2014, this time the amount was 2000 Birr and she added another 1000 Birr from her profit last year. Again she started cultivating onions, now on a land size of 0,25 HA (ca 2,5 mål i norsk målestokk).

Together with her husband she did all the work from planting of seeds to harvesting and marketing.

The harvest was very good and the prices were high at the time of the sales. They sold onions for 54 000 Birr (about 20 770 NOK). After repaying the loan, deducting the cost of fertilizer, seeds and labor they could realize a profit of about 48 000 Birr (18 460 NOK). 

Mamitu was so proud and happy when she told her story.

“I never thought that I would be able to see such change for me and my family. Now I have a proper house, with concrete floor, iron door and I have even got some furniture in the house”, she says. 

Her plan is to expand the land for her onion production, to do this she will rent land from her neighbors – just like they used to rent her land in the past when she could not cultivate herself.

Proud in front of her new furniture.
Proud in front of her new furniture.

Mamitu’s dream is for her children to go to school and get a good education, for the farming business to expand and for all her family to live a good life.

Mamitu says: “After I joined the SHG I can write my name, but I would like to learn more. I would like to be able to help my children in their education and I would like to be able to properly record the cost and benefit of my business.”

She does the planning and priorities for the business together with her husband, this is also new for Mamitu. Earlier it was the husband that took all the decisions, as it is in most rural communities in Ethiopia.

“Now we are equals”, says Mamitu. “My husband and I share the struggles and the happiness, we are both proud of what we have achieved and I can thank the SHG for my good life and progress”.