Kokebe Ababa was honoured and surprised in equal measure, when villagers elected her to serve on the board of her local village savings and credit cooperative (RUSACCO).
“I had a passion to serve my community, and I wanted to do it. I was prepared to work hard, which is why they elected me,” she says.
Looking back on that moment a few years later, Kokebe, a mother-of-four, says that her election also allowed her to overcome a painful shyness and lack of confidence that meant she would hardly ever speak in front of strangers.
Training she received from Self Help Africa, together with the new responsibility has enabled Kokebe, from Hitossa village in Ethiopia, to start taking a more active role in decision making at home.
“In the past my husband used to take all the decisions in the family. Now I have the confidence to express an opinion, and we discuss things together before making a decision.”
There has been an economic dividend from the savings and credit group too, as Kokebe has borrowed money from her SACCO to rent land to supplement the family’s two-acre holding, and has used the additional space to grow potatoes, and to graze a cow that she also bought. Recently, she also carried out improvements to her home.
Kokebe Ababa says that she is saving for her childrens’ future, and believes that her experience is setting a good example to them. “When I was younger, I knew nothing about business, or about how to manage money. My children see what I’m doing now, and have a better understanding of these things,” she said.