“They come from great distances to our shop” - The ‘Alen Tesfa’ women’s agro-processing cooperative
Tige Gelaw is from the Awabel woreda of the Amhara region in Ethiopia, bordered on the south by the famous Abay River, known as the Blue Nile. Tige is a member of Alen Tesfa, which translates to We have Hope, a women’s agro-processing cooperative group set up by SAA in 2010.
“SG 2000 came to our kebele” Tige recalls. “The first training we received was in home economics. [They] then provided us with peppers, chickpeas and Teff flour milling machines, which relieved us of the double burden of having to walk long distances carrying heavy weights. We also received different training programmes from SG 2000, such as in basic business skills, cooperative management, home processing, packing, labeling, and others.”
With the provision of such training, together with the right equipment, groups like Alen Tesfa are now able to process different agricultural products, including pepper, shiro (chickpeas), barley, and others. “Before acquiring the mills, we had to travel long distances to process these and other products and, at times, had to spend two to three days at our destination waiting our turn because of the long queues”, Tige explains.
Since 2010, the group’s capital has grown from 4,000 birr ($150) to 99,540 ($3500). “We are now able to afford access to electricity, which enables us to transform from using diesel mills, which have been difficult in terms of service and maintenance, to an electric one”, said Tige. The group uses one mill for spices and pepper, and the other for grains.
“We get great satisfaction from providing services to farmers and their families, even from other areas. They come from great distances to our shop to buy processed products as well. We are planning to open more shops in the immediate future.”
SG 2000 Ethiopia has so far established 30 women’s agro-processing cooperatives like Alen Tesfa in different parts of the country. “My group and the community have no words”, said Tige.“‘Thank you’ is not enough. From training to material provision, we are truly grateful and enormously indebted to