Women Entrepreneurship Development Project

The Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) through Women Entrepreneurship Development Project (WEDP) is a landmark initiative, in Ethiopia and globally. As one of the first ever woman-entrepreneur focused line of credit operations, it has demonstrated to the world what a successful model for unlocking larger finance for growth-oriented women entrepreneurs can look like.

WEDP’s results have been impressive. Nearly 20,000 entrpereneurs have accessed WEDP loans and business training. Firms that have participated in WEDP have grown profits by 40.7% and employment by 54.3% over two years. WEDP has received numerous awards and accolades and is serving as a model to inform governments in other countries – in Indonesia, Mexico, Kenya, and Turkey, to name a few. The World Bank Group is exploring how it can work with governments around the world to ‘replicate’ the successful WEDP Ethiopia mode in other countries and regions.

Having been involved with WEDP from its earliest days, over 7 years ago, I’ve had the pleasure of working with a truly outstanding ‘WEDP team’. The success has been a joint one, with leadership from the Federal Urban Job Creation and Food Security Agency, Development Bank of Ethiopia, Ministry of Urban Development and Construction, National Bank of Ethiopia, the Ministry of Finance, and a group of highly committed development partners.

Many people have asked what the key to WEDP’s success is, to learn how it can be replicated in other contexts and countries. There are many answers. Some of it has to do with providing the right incentives for financial institutions. Some of it has to do with understanding the specific challenges like collateral faced by women entrepreneurs. Some of it has to do with utilizing innovative technologies, like the psychometrics or web-based MIS technologies which WEDP deployed.

But the largest element of WEDP’s success has been people. The WEDP team on the ground and their dedication to supporting women entrepreneurs has been remarkable. Some faces have changed since the beginning of WEDP seven years ago, but many have remained the same. The Team Leaders and tehri teams at FUJFCSA and DBE in particular have done an outstanding job of building WEDP into what it is today. The City Coordinators – some of who have been with WEDP for over 5 years – have demonstrated unparalleled commitment and dedication.

And ultimately, those entrepreneurs who have accessed WEDP services, and used this support to further growth their businesses, and employ and help others as they do: they are the heart of WEDP. Their growth and success is not only a benefit to them and their communities, but an inspiration which is echoing beyond Ethiopia’s borders.

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