Save, Borrow, Thrive…The Ethiopian Way

Self Help AfricaEthiopia, Microfinance

tegegn butajira940

Western economies are still trying to recover from the credit crisis of 2007/08. A mountain of debt accumulated by runaway banks and inflated property deals almost overwhelmed the entire banking system. 6 years later and western taxpayers are still picking up the tab with huge outstanding bills.

Imagine now a different world, a world where savers save BEFORE they get credit and where any loans they receive are repaid IN FULL. Welcome to the world of Zewdnesh Tegegn. She’s the chair of the Edget Savings and Credit Co Op Union, (SACCO) near the town of Butajira in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Region in Ethiopia.

Zewdnesh, a mother of 2 boys and 2 girls ranging in age from 20 to 6, is a founding member of her SACCO. In 2004, she borrowed 2000 Birr (approx. 80 Euros/£68) to buy some teff (an iron rich grain) which she then baked into injera, a local speciality bread. Her work has been so successful that she now employs an extra person to help out.

This year , she’s borrowed 28,000 Birr ( 1,125 Euro/£952) while her savings amount to 12,000 Birr (482 Euro/£408). Her next ambition is to get a bigger house where she can rent rooms and earn extra income. Zewdnesh is proud of her success, based she says on ‘the virtue of hard work’.

Her individual success is mirrored in the growth of the Edget SACCO…It’s gone from 40 members to a current total of 158 (95 of whom are women).. Its capital base has accelerated from just 1000 Birr (40 Euro/£34) to a highly impressive 928,583 Birr (37,340 Euro/£31,600), all saved by the members themselves.

Edget Sacco comes under the umbrella of ‘the parent’ Yenetsanet RuSACCO Union. It now covers 106 primary Saccos with more than 14,000 members, three quarters of whom are women. Self Help Africa will continue to support this work until 2015.