Women Enterprise:

Empowering women has immense benefits to families, communities, and societies in general. Given this reality, Dir Biyabir actively seeks opportunities to support, encourage, and  invest in enterprises run by women.  We have supported entrepreneurship by women in a wide range of environments including Orthodox nuns in Sebeta, Afar Women in Awash, Leprosy survivors in Addis Abeba, and school girls in Northern Shewa.


A.    Entrepreneurship at Gethesemane Betedenagil Tebabat Nunnery

The Sebeta Gethesemane Betedenagil Tebabat Nunnery (GBTN) was founded in 1960 by the good will of Queen Menen who offered her own palace to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church. Currently 105 nuns live in the nunnery taking care of 215 orphan children from all over Ethiopia. The nunnery runs a school and various income generating small enterprises such as:

Based on a proposal submitted by GBTN, In April 2014, Dir Biyabir funded the purchase of an egg hatching incubator. The goal is for the nunnery to generate additional income by hatching eggs and selling chicks.  Our chairperson was privileged to have the opportunity to visit the nunnery in April 2014 and meet the key Emahoy who is responsible for operations.  She was extremely impressed by the level of efficiency, work ethic and effectiveness of these nuns.  The nunnery is extremely well run, the children are very well cared for and the quality of the handicraft produced is exemplary.  The nunnery should be held up as a model for what can be accomplished in Ethiopia and Dir Biyabir is honored to support them in a small way. 


B. Afar Women Handicraft

This project was funded by Dir Biyabir and implemented in July 2013 by Wildlife for Sustainable Development (WSD), an Ethiopian non-profit based in Awash. Supplemental funding was provided by SCIP/PHE EC. The goal was to implement a community based women’s enterprise to produce handicrafts from sustainable harvesting of Doum Palm leaves.  Key project activities that were completed included:


C. Poultry for Rural School Girls

Initially conceived as a school breakfast program, the poultry project was considered as a more affordable and sustainable way to address part of the nutrition problem. In addition to supplementing nutrition among children, it is also a means of providing them with some practical business skills. The overall aim of the project is to enable young students to begin to be self sufficient and reliable with regard to satisfying their daily food requirement. The immediate objectives are to create skills for young students on off-farm agricultural activities of poultry farming and to provide financial capital for execution of the project. This is a pilot project that initially focuses on a selected number of students from the Workegur Primary School. Dir Biyabir wired $850 USD for the pilot project.

Thirty girls were given training on poultry rearing and management and each received three 3-month old chicks and some initial commercial feed. Among the chicks that each girl received was a male chick so that they could continue to breed and raise a larger flock.

This has already been a very promising project with important lessons learned. At the end of the 1-year project date close to 90% of the chicken were alive and all of the students had chicks that were laying eggs. The chicken started laying eggs at 5 months of age and the girls have been able to generate supplementary income selling them. Next step is to teach the girls to strike a balance between selling and consuming the eggs themselves to improve their nutrition. Additional educational/training sessions are planned.
Based on the success of the pilot project, Dir Biyabir is planning on funding an extension of this project to an additional 60 students. The proposal for the extension of this project has already been reviewed and approved.


D. Women's Textile Enterprise in Addis Abeba
The Addis Ababa Region Ex-Leprosy Women's Work Group is a small local enterprise that creates and sells hand-made cotton textiles. It is located in Zenebwork, not far from the ALERT Leprosy Hospital in Addis Abeba. The group has an inspiring story. It employs survivors of leprosy and is run by Woizero Birkinesh, herself a survivor of leprosy. This work group has been in operation for more than 25 years, teaching skills and creating jobs for leprosy survivors in the community. They sell their products locally through retail outlets in Addis Abeba, and export them to foreign markets as well. They also supply other local manufacturers with textiles.
The project proposed by this enterprise and sponsored by Dir Biyabir involved the construction of a semi-covered work area for workers to protect them from the elements and improve their working conditions and productivity. The proposal requested 10,000 ETB ($880 USD) to build this covered work area and the funds were sent in full.

UPDATE: AUGUST 2010 In 2009, the enterprise faced an urgent need for direct material (cotton) to avoid laying-off some women, and they decided to use the funds to purchase cotton and keep the women employed.
Dir Biyabir has been in constant communication with the contact person for this project to ensure that the work-area was constructed per the original project proposal. After some delay due to lack of required permits, construction of this work area has begun.



Afar women making handicraft as part of their training


‚ÄčAfar Women trainees displaying their beautiful finished products

School Girls with their chicken.

Four month old chicken.

Traditional chicken rearing.