Mother of four, Aster Getachew is a member of the“Siquwa” SHG and lives in Sodo city, Ethiopia.
Resilient, determined and ambitious, Aster wished to see her hope of a small business fulfilled. She and her husband faced financial struggles and she wanted to emulate her neighbors by earning her own capital. She persisted for years to try and secure loans but was unable to get them due to her economic situation.
One day she heard from community facilitators about Self-Help Groups (SHGs). Remembering the day she heard about them, she smiles and says,
"That day was a turning point of my life as joining an SHG brought new hope.”
She decided to join a SHG in 2015.
Photo: Aster with her fattened Sheep. Credit: Tearfund Ireland/WKHC-TDA
SHGs are social and economic groups that have their own bylaws, vison and accountability structures. They mobilize their own weekly savings into a common fund through loans. drawn from weekly savings. The interest acquired from the loans are placed back into the common fund.
The women make the financial decisions together and loans are given to group members with proposed business plans. Chair leaderships is rotated every week to build leadership and communication skills and there are social protection funds for members who may face business bankruptcy or family emergency.
Photo: Aster in her Beekeeping Farm. Credit: Tearfund Ireland/WKHC-TDA
Within five years of joining her SHG, she has been able to start her own small business. Starting with grain and butter, she has expanded to poultry, fattening of animals, beekeeping, dairy and expanding her sale of animal products. Once a high school dropout, she now has a college diploma in accounting.
In addition to her new business, she feels freed from loneliness. Often feeling isolated in her community due to economic status, Aster now feels confident and a part of a community. She has become a voice for SHGs, presenting unresolved matters to government offices.
COVID-19 has hurt many small businesses, including Aster's. Movement of people has slowed and income has diminished. The pandemic has overshadowed the rekindled hopes and ambitions to further expand her businesses. Hoping this will change, Aster still works on the same businesses but now reduced her products and focuses her business on milk and cheese trade.
Photo: Aster feeding her milk cows. Credit: Tearfund Ireland/WKHC-TDA
We want to see Aster's business return to her pre-Covid status. She has worked hard to establish herself in her business and community. Tearfund Ireland is asking supporters to remember Aster as they enjoy the reopening of Irish society. We encourage you to save any amount you can with each activity you do this summer. Your support can help programmes, such as the SHGs, as well as investing back into the Irish economy.
Cover Photo: Aster and her son harvesting honey for her beekeeping farm
Credit: Tearfund Ireland/WKHC-TDA