Women in Mirab Abaya district are deprived from access and benefit of basic service and development programs due to gender barriers that limit women’s opportunities and women are disproportionately affected by the impact of poverty. Social norms are restrictive of women and girls empowerment and gender equality. The gender power differences has limited women’s proactive participation in household productive resources decision and community leadership positions.

To improve women’s income dependency SCORE has been implementing IFSRC project since January /2019. IFSRC has an integrated project that aim to improve agricultural cultivation measures, creation of alternative income opportunities, and rehabilitation of soil and optimization of potable waters.

The IFSRC project gave due focus for youth and women engagement for economic capacity enhancement.

The IFSRC promoted Self Help Group (SHG) that created opportunity for women to establish their own institution for women only spaces for their social and economic empowerment.

Women Self Help Group (SHG) is an informal institution with the membership of 15 to 20 members meet weekly for saving and lending purpose and apart from business they also discuss on their pressing social and economic issues and look for solution collectively. The space is potential for women to freely raise and discuss issues that they face being women and developed collective voices for safeguarding of their rights.

The SHGs has brought changes in the life of targeted women and member of SHGs devotedly shared their stories how being in group enabled them enhance their economic capacity. Women of Abaya SHGs in Fetele and Zeruse SHGs in Morede Kebele shared their story how the project raised their motivation and courage to voluntary established in groups:

“…we only receive ETB50 from the project in cash forms as lunch allowance for a day long training. However the knowledge and motivation we got from the training is remarkable. Following the training we immediately started saving from what we have and we continued saving and started internal lending from our group saving to start small businesses. Most of members are now practicing small business. I myself received small loan and bought goat for fattening and sold with good prices after feeding for a while. From the profit I earned I paid back my loan and spent some for my household consumption. I kept the principal money to continue the business. Had it the loan amount large I could have sell more and earn more profit. We have seen that our small money is making differences and we now confident to manage large size credits.

The SHG enabled women realized and unleash their potentials. Women have developed more confidence to engage in small business and generate their own income. They have witnessed that they have developed culture of saving, credit and loan and business management which is a fertile opportunity flagging women can manage large credits and business if they have given opportunities.  Organized women have also demonstrated capacity for business ideas and generate income for members. The IFSRC SHGs in Morede kebeles are exemplary of managing group business for members benefit. They have shared their story how members discuss business ideas and manage their business:

“…we started by small amount of money from our own sources. After saving for some months we decided to engage in group businesses and we bought ox for fattening. We hired   labor to feed and look after the ox. We regularly discuss regarding our business and also closely monitor the progress of the fattening. We have now a plan to sell for our new festive with good price. We will not share out the profit rather we decided to purchase additional two oxen for fattening. We will soon generate more income and improve our capital and benefit of members. We do this all by our own money but with the knowledge and motivation we have got from the project that brought us together, encouraged us to save and provided us training to raise our awareness and knowledge of business.

The IFSRC project business development capacity building ensured that women have proved individual and group business case profitable for members benefit. Moreover their success being together and manage business is challenging the restrictive social norms around women’s business management.

The SHG provided women to meet their fellow women while gathering for saving. Women therefore meet and discuss with each other’s which strengthen their solidarity and collective voices. This is a fertile opportunity for the project to utilize the space for community development and education on project expected results particularly education on nutrition, environment, gender transformation etc for family development and women’s capacity for conscious of their right.