Reaping the fruits of hard work - Aisha's story
Aisha Tola, 25, lives in a small village in Arsi Negelle Woreda, West Arsi zone. Aisha, who was married at 17 and has three children, explains how a farming enterprise set up with support from Empower Youth for Work has exceeded all expectations – and changed her life.
“Before, there were no job opportunities. The situation is even worse for young women because early marriage and abduction are common. We used to feel stressed without any work to fill our time. The hours of daylight felt so long! Many young men wasted their time roaming aimlessly and drinking alcohol, which ruins many lives here. Although I have a good husband, we were very poor.”
Aisha heard about the opportunity to start an enterprise through the EYW project in Oromia region. She joined four other young women and two men to establish the ‘Abate, Alemitu and Friends Farming Enterprise’.
A good decision
“We decided to grow tomatoes because the conditions here are just right. EYW showed us how to prepare nursery plants and manage the farm. They also gave us entrepreneurship and business management training, and provided constant business development support. Thanks to the project, our enterprise got a loan from a microfinance institute. This boosted our confidence and motivated us.”
Aisha and her friends rented 1.5 hectares of farmland and started to put their learning into practice, carefully preparing the soil, planting seedlings and tending the young plants. Their first harvest was a huge success. “We saw the fruits of our hard work,” she says. “Since then, our lives have improved enormously.”
With the profits from their harvest, the group rented a bigger plot and began selling to traders who reach customers in several cities. “Now we plan to buy a truck to transport our tomatoes to Addis Ababa and other cities, so we can sell directly,” says Aisha. She is especially proud of how the enterprise has created opportunities for other young people, or inspired them to set up their own farming groups.
“We have six permanent workers, and during the harvest we hire up to 30 youths a day. We have set an example to our local community and are helping others to take up similar activities. I would like to tell other young people, especially women, that just staying at home is stressful. You can change this!”
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