Doubling Down on Success

Doubling Down on Success

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You don’t break the cycle of poverty by giving people money. You break it by giving them power. This has been CARE’s mission from the start – to give people the ability to take control of their futures, and not let it be dictated by assistance.

Every success story reinforces this mission. That’s why we’re publishing a series of success stories from CARE Ethiopia’s GRAD Program (Graduation with Resilience to Achieve Sustainable Development), a microfinancing program funded by USAID wherein communities set up Village Economic and Social Associations for its members (VESAs).

VESAs give members of the community a chance to buy into a savings and loan program, from which they can pull small, targeted loans to start new businesses and enterprises. It has been a wild success. Members are trained in financial management, adaptation to climate change, promotes behavioral changes in husbands and men, nutritious meals for children and there is an almost 100% repayment rate. Most importantly, it shows women that when the power is in their hands, great things can happen, and entire communities can prosper.

The program shows that when you give someone not assistance, but opportunity, just how far they will run with it. 


Thanks to GRAD, Tumay Ashebir and his family are engaged in everything from sheep rearing and fattening to producing vegetables, grains and honey. They even run a small transportation business with their mule cart. Their assets, which now include 21 sheep, 10 cattle, a cart, beehives and a year’s worth of food in storage, continue to grow. 

Before, I had just two assets—an ox and a cow—and not even a single idea about how I could improve my livelihood. GRAD opened my mind to a bright future. I learned about all of the different livelihood opportunities available to me. I learned how to manage my assets, how to sell them, how to save them. I also learned how to diversify my livelihood.

This has been a great benefit—not only for me, but also for my whole family. The skills I got from the project have helped all of us to be more business-minded. Now each of us does something to help. My wife helps me with the sheep rearing and fattening, my younger children watch the sheep, and my older sons help with the cattle, the beekeeping, the donkey cart and our other businesses. I am also educating all of my children because in the future they will help the family continue to diversify its income.

If you come back a year from now, you will see that things are even better than they are now. You may see two carts, and the number of sheep might be double. Everything might be doubled. That is the advantage you get from opening your mind. 

Photo Credit: Kelley Lycnh