The sustainable approach to economic development in Ethiopia by Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) was recognized recently by Julian Fantino, Canada’s minister for international cooperation.
During his visit, Fantino met with weavers involved in the Ethiopians Driving Growth through Entrepreneurship and Trade (EDGET) program. The project, which aims to help 10,000 farmers and weavers create more sustainable livelihoods for their families, receives funding from the Canadian government through the Canadian International Development Agency.
“This is exactly the kind of project that Canada is proud to support as it delivers tangible results, helps lift families out of poverty and puts countries on track to becoming self-sustaining,” the minister said.
Using a business solution to poverty, and working with local partners over five years, EDGET enables rice farmers and textile producers to increase their income by helping them reach higher-value markets, learn new production techniques, implement new technologies and gain access to support services. Since the project began in 2011, weavers have seen as much as an 18-percent increase in their income through the project.
During his visit, Fantino talked with several local weavers and a designer to learn about how they became involved in EDGET and the impact it has had on their lives.
“I have more, steady orders and receive more money for my products because of the linkage to designers,” one male weaver noted. “In this group, we work together to encourage quality and delivery of our orders on time.”
A female weaver added, “Since this project and the new things I learned about developing my business and to improve the quality of my weaving, I have gotten more orders and am able to save money. I have made enough money to buy a new house for my family.”
Local designers are also benefitting from the project. “I am very happy to participate, as it has given me access to more excellent quality weavers for the fabric for my designs,” one explained. “In Ethiopia, there is a strong, proud heritage of excellent weaving skills, and we are investing and leveraging that expertise by linking these weavers to high-end buyers here in country and through export markets.”
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