An Inspiring Journey to Financial Independence: Emebet’s Story

Wednesday 1 April 2020

Emebet with daughter

Emebet married young. Shortly after marriage, she delivered a healthy daughter. Unfortunately, with that joy came great sorrow and difficulty, as her husband unexpectedly died. Emebet had tremendous responsibilities but few opportunities. In her community, there was only a primary school, so when she finished Grade eight, her educational aspirations ended. She sought support from extended family members to make ends meet. Life continued in this precarious manner until her community selected her to be a recipient of support from a project run by Save the Children. Emebet was given six shoats, which are a goat-sheep hybrid well suited to the highlands where she lives. After just two and a half years, her flock increased from six to 12.

She decided to sell seven and buy a dairy cow, from which she gets milk for her daughter and sells in the community. Her life has been transformed. From being dependent upon the goodwill of others, she is now providing for her family. Emebet beams with pride about the success of her new, and rapidly expanding, livestock business. She is an example of success for women in her community.

Save the Children’s Improving Nutritional Status of Pregnant and Lactating Women and Children in Rural Ethiopia (INSPIRE) project uses a multisector approach to enhance health, nutrition and well-being for women and children. Part of that initiative includes enabling women to gain assets and start businesses so that the support of the project would be a catalyst for new lives and livelihoods that would be life changing well beyond the duration of the project. The provision of shoats to expecting or new mothers, who were experiencing severe poverty, as determined by community-based selection processes, was one activity that aimed to do just that. Across the project, it was highly successful.

The INSPIRE project developed an innovative approach to include more women like Emebet as well as build stronger community connections. Amongst the first offspring of the shoats, each person was to give two shoats to another person in the community. The community also selected this second beneficiary during the initial selection process. Each person knew to whom they ought to give the livestock, and beneficiaries knew from whom to expect them. Since they gave two animals, three beneficiaries gave two shoats to equal the six that they received to the first set of beneficiaries. This has allowed the project to increase the number of beneficiaries by 30%, with few additional costs. This approach was implemented successfully throughout the project and future programming is exploring how it can be expanded to other activities.