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Fashioning a better future for HOODO coorperative - Ethiopia

Despite the many odds stacked against them, a group of young women in Ethiopia have set up a successful garment business and earned an income for the first time in their lives.

The HOODO cooperative was formed in July 2019 in Wejale City by eight young women, supported by the Empower Youth for Work (EYW) project and a loan from the Somali regional government. The group members set up a business selling women’s clothes, such as traditional dresses and headscarves, made from colorful fabrics.

An uphill struggle

Previously, these women spent their days doing household chores and were completely dependent on their husbands. With little formal education and no business experience, they faced an uphill struggle to make their venture a success. The Empower Youth for Work project provided training and support on business management, which covered topics such as input sourcing, completing legal documents, market linkage and bookkeeping. The women worked hard to overcome each hurdle and found that they worked very well as a team. Initially, the business was limited to Wejale City, but it soon expanded and they started supplying to Jigjiga City.

Popular with customers

A reputation for quality garments and good service has made the business a popular choice among customers, and today the women are delivering clothing to Harar, Dire Dawa, Nazareth, Debrezeit and the capital, Addis Ababa. Daily sales average 6,700 Birr, which means they can support their families – something the women see as a major success, given that they had never earned any income before.

The Covid-19 pandemic has created many challenges for businesses big and small all over the world. The fact that the women were able to repay their government loan within the first year of trading is a tribute to their hard work and resilience.


Photo credit: Abdinasir Hassen