Growing Together Through Work...and Chickens
Commitment, hard work, economic growth, community impact: these are words one might use to describe the people running the Endeg Besera (“Let’s grow through work”) chicken farm in the Guraghe Zone of southern Ethiopia. Inspired by the financial and business skills training they received from the GRAD project, several married couples decided to start a group business in 2015, raising pullets (young hens) from day-old chicks to sell to farmers in the area. Three years later, the business is still running and continuing to grow.
Group members now say that simply wanting to start a business wasn’t enough. They needed to run a successful business that could last. For that, they needed to apply new skills and form market linkages. That’s where GRAD came in. The project trained the group on market assessment and business planning. Using those skills, the group looked for value chains where there was high demand. Their analysis showed them that there was a high market demand for better breeds of chicks. They also realized that selling chickens locally would help their neighbors get more protein in their diets.
Forming market connections was the next piece—and GRAD helped there, too. Getting the supplies to run a business in Ethiopia can be a challenge and the group had to look for places to buy chicken feed and tools to raise chickens. Fortunately, GRAD helped a local businessman set up a poultry supply shop, so it was easy for Endeg Besera to buy what was needed. The project also helped the group find a hatchery where they could buy day-old chicks and a farmer’s training center that lent them workspace.
What about financing? “We were able to access a 40,000 birr ($1,482) loan from a Micro-finance Institution (MFI). GRAD helped us connect to the MFI that lent us the money,” says Weleyu Shemisu, a member of the group. The investment paid off in a big way. In 2015, the group bought 1,050 baby chicks and made a profit of 30,000 birr (1,111 USD) in just two months, 6,000 birr ($ 222) for each couple.
Weleyu and his friends are still running a thriving business 18 months after the project ended. They raised 6,000 pullets in 2017. Each couple earns an average of 36,000 birr ($1,332) a year. Using skills they learned from GRAD to build a business based on local markets realities is a big part of that. Building on connections to the market system, they have a reliable source of inputs, and continued demand from customers in the area. The habits of savings and investment the group learned from the project are another key to sustained success. Every time they sell chickens, they deposit half of their profits in a group bank account to keep investing in the business and plan for emergencies. As a group, they have 300,000 birr ($11,111) saved in the bank.
GRAD’s investment in this group continues to bring benefits well beyond its initial reach. Like so many community groups, one of the first things Endeg Besera did with their success was pay it forward. They supported 13 neighboring households to establish two similar group businesses. Once they had the resources, they rented a house for their own business so a new group could use the space at the community center. In 2017, the three group businesses together supplied around 15,000 chickens to local households and started selling in neighboring districts.
Endeg Besera has bigger dreams and have started discussing what comes next. Support from GRAD helped them build the startup capital, the skills, the connections, and the confidence they need to keep growing. They will continue to use these skills to decide what opportunities are best for their next steps.