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Youth Leading Youth for Village-based Entrepreneurship and Business Opportunities in Ethiopia

Eighteen-year-old Abraha Grimy has been a participant in the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Feed the Future Ethiopia Value Chain Activity’s (VCA) mentorship program in Enderta woreda, Felegselam kebele since December 2019. In his role as a mentor, Abraha provides advice to 10 youth mentees who live around his village. In addition, he collects eggs from his mentees and brings them to market. Prior to Abraha’s support, his mentees had limited products to sell, which would fetch a higher price at markets outside of their village; however, going to that market by themselves was not profitable due to travel expenses. Instead, they preferred to sell their eggs in their own village at a lower price to traders from more urban centers. Recognizing this challenge, Abraha worked with the mentees and others in his village to increase the price of eggs by .50-cent Birr and to place all of the mentees’ eggs for sale at the local weekly market. This approach has allowed Abraha, his mentees, and others in his community to make a higher profit from their goods. Abraha is now thriving as a businessman and mentor, but two years ago this was not the case.

In 2018, when Abraha was just 16, he dropped out of school and started working as a day laborer at a nearby construction site to help his mother and two brothers. He would travel for hours each day to reach his job and then work full eight-hour days before beginning the long journey home. Because he was young, he was given tasks that involved lifting and carrying heavy loads. Over time, Abraha fell ill, and after giving the 100 Birr he received each day to his family, he had none left over to cover his medical costs. He knew he had to quit the job and do something different.

Abraha collects eggs for the weekly village market.

In 2019, Abraha went back to school and started his poultry business to cover his school-related costs while continuing to support his family financially. Initially, Abraha bought 20 chickens suitable for laying eggs, but using traditional techniques only yielded 6-8 eggs per day. Abraha knew this would not be enough and looked for opportunities to improve his poultry business and increase his revenue.

In July 2019, Abraha participated in a VCA poultry field day where he received technical support and materials such as cement, sand, wire mesh, wooden poles, boots, and overalls to improve his poultry business and construct a modern shaded area for demonstrations for other youth in his village. After the field day, Abraha saw his business grow tremendously. Within the first two months, Abraha had a net profit of 13,500 Birr. Currently, Abraha owns a well-constructed shed for his 80 egg-producing chickens and is collecting 70-75 eggs per day. On average, Abraha collects more than 1,000 eggs per week which he can sell for a profit of 1-2 Birr per egg. According to him, “Feed the Future’s Ethiopia Value Chain Activity showed me how to get money, how to continue my school, and how to help others. This is the main road to change my family life within my village.” Abraha’s success encouraged him to participate in VCA’s mentorship program so that he can help other youth like him grow their businesses and pursue their dreams.