Our Entrepreneurship Projects

Entrepreneurship and Economic Development is one of the areas Haben Tigray identified in its strategic plan. The unprecedented impacts if the war on Tigray's economy requires significant empowerment of the population to regain its  

Featured Project

Education & Monetary Project -  Opportunities for Women in Rural Tigray


As organizations with shared objectives aimed at helping the people of Tigray impacted by the war, Tigray Disaster Relief Fund (TDRF) and Haben Tigray Relief and Development Association (Haben Tigray) embarked on a collaboration to do their parts and help tackle the enormous crisis caused by the war in Tigray which disproportionately impacted women and girls. Building up on a previous project initiated by Raey Hiwot that gave their reserve funds to the Haben Tigray through TDRF for use to women entrepreneurs affected by the war through provision of working capital on revolving basis. 


According to a 2018 UN report, targeting of women and girls through various violent tactics of war is widespread in conflicts around the globe. In the recent war in Tigray, women and girls have sustained innumerable abuses. Rampant level of sexual abuse, dispossession of accumulated valuable assets and capital, forced displacement, psychological stress and health-related impacts, physical injuries and fatalities are well documented. Preliminary reports show over 127,000 women and girls have experienced rape and sexual abuse in the first eight months of the war. Over 3 million people are internally displaced and the majority being women and girls.

Rehabilitation of the livelihoods of families in Tigray depends on the success in the rehabilitation of the economic and social capabilities of women. This requires creation of strong support programs targeting women and girls in the post-war rehabilitation effort. Women require support that facilitate psychological healing, access to medical care, and access to economic resources to re-establish their livelihoods. Generally, international agencies supporting post-war rehabilitation suggest that special attention should be given in rehabilitation efforts to address the negative impacts of war on women.


The collaboration between Haben Tigray and TDRF aims to initiate intervention programs that contribute to rebuilding the livelihoods of women and girls in hot spot areas in the war-devastated Tigray through resource mobilization for implementation of support programs involving local and diaspora Tigrayan community and other stakeholders. The education component of the collaboration supports young girls' education in war-affected rural areas through modest scholarship that covers housing rent, educational materials, and dignity kits.

Purpose and Objective

The program aims to support women entrepreneurs who lost their working capital due to looting and burning of their businesses. Microfinance and similar financial services are known to contribute positively in the process of reconstruction after war. However, the formal microfinance services are highly affected during the two-year long war and siege on Tigray. Hence, access to microcredit is one of the key constraints for enterprising women to re-establish their livelihoods. Given these women are experienced in small business and petty-trade, working capital availability, through revolving fund, will enable them to employ themselves, earn income, and support their family, which will contribute positively to ensuring household food and nutrition security.

Project Plan

The original project plan considered previous experience in Tigray for such programs which required Birr 3500 to 5000 working capital per participant depending on the nature of the business. Taking the Birr 5000 per entrepreneur as the upper limit , the program aimed to support 168 women-entrepreneurs in 2023 and 2024. Inclusive approach were to be followed when identifying participants considering persons with disability, single mothers, and other vulnerable populations. 

The loan disbursement and collection was planned to be coordinated with local microfinance offices. Each beneficiary would be required to open an account and initial saving deposit of Birr 50 in the nearest functional microfinance office. Re-collection plan would be prepared for the disbursed working capital and the amount re-collected fund would be used to ensure continuity of the program funding until 2031. 

The initial project areas included Hagereselam, Samre, and Axum districts with the intent to select specific locations (Tabias/Kebeles) in consultation with local office of the Women’s Association of Tigray and local administrations.  The project duration would be four years, with the first cycle from 2023 till 2027 and possible extension based on loan recovery rate until 2031.

Project Kickoff

Starting November 2023, our local Haben Tigray office in Mekelle started the project kick off at the following  locations. Hagereselam town and Rural Degua Temben, Wukro town, Samre District and Axum in which at 50 women were selected  as women empowerment loan recipients in each area for a total of 200 women entrepreneurs. 

Once we received the funding and started the implementation of the project, we found out that the amounts we projected were insufficient for the projects to have a meaningful impact due to cost hikes. Based on requirements from the Tigray Women’s Affairs Bureau, recommendations from NGOs operating in Tigray and Haben Tigray’s strong belief in the continuation of this important project, Haben Tigray  went ahead with the project by making the necessary modification to increase the 5000 Birr working capital loan to the minimum required loan of 13,000 Birr (although at least 20,000 Birr was highly recommended) so that 200 women entrepreneurs were provided with a total of 2,600,000 Birr (about $46,400). While the generous donation from TDRF and Raey Hiwot of covered most of the cost for this project, Haben Tigray covered the difference.