By Ketil Fuglestad
Etagne is one of the entrepreneurs partaking in StS EDA’s cash support program in southern Ethiopia, supported by the Kavli Trust.
Like many of the recipients, Etagne lives in the city of Arba Minch. When we come to visit her, she is seated on a bed in her store. Etagne has a disability causing her pains and backaches. It hurts to get to her feet, but she doesn’t let it show when she stands up.
In this small room, she both lives and runs her store. She fills all the roles herself – manager, salesperson and, at night, she is the guard. The store is open from morning until she goes to bed at night.
A free piece of land from her brother
“The land the store sits on is owned by my brother. I am grateful for the help he’s given me, letting me use it for free,” says Etagne.
The side street where she lives is a short way from a main street.
“Because of this, I see a regular stream of potential customers,” she states, happily.
It is now twelve years since she suffered the injury that’s causing her trouble walking today. A subsequent fall, caused by the accident, caused her to break her ankle and injure her back further.
“I got metal plates and screws operated in, but walking is still a challenge,” she says.
Working for others with disabilities
Despite her injuries, Etagne is both active and social. In her spare time, she leads a group of people with different disabilities.
“At group meetings, we collect 10 to 20 birr from each member. The money is for larger, joint projects, and are deposited into a bank account,” says Etagne.
“On some of the year’s holidays, everyone with a disability is invited to a joint celebration, and the city administration provides funds from coffee, tea and food. Usually, about 270 people attend these celebrations,” she says.
Etagne received the first installment of the cash support from StS EDA in the spring of 2017. Today, she proudly shows us her bank account, where she has 13,150 birr. This is money she has saved, showing that the store is doing well!