“The reality of my life didn’t allow me to think too much about my dreams,” says 17-year-old Mikiyas. “It has always been my dream to stand alongside my mother and share the burden of providing for our family. I also wanted to pursue my passion, but I couldn’t find the means to make enough money to do so.”
Since he was a child, Mikiyas has seen his mother struggle to feed the family. He has also seen her stand tall and persevere as she experimented with various small businesses to generate a little more income for her four children. As the eldest child in the family, Mikiyas tried to ease the financial burden at home by washing cars and running errands after school. However, the money he earned didn’t bring much change. He wanted to try his hands at something bigger. He wanted to run his own business.
For young people in Ethiopia, finding a job is a significant hurdle. Almost one-third of the country is aged between 15 and 29, and 87% of all registered job searchers are in this same age range. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate is consistently rising, and the problem is most severe outside of the major cities.
Besides formal education at school, many students don’t have opportunities to explore their talents or get trained in skills that could increase their employability. Their potential gets buried, and young people with dreams and aspirations are forced to live off their caregivers at an age when they could be self-sufficient.
In addition to supporting students’ formal educations, Compassion centers in Ethiopia equip youths with skills that will make them successful in the job market and ensure long-term economic self-sufficiency.
In Bale Robe town, Compassion’s local partner, Kale Hiwot Church, is uniquely implementing this strategy. They organize entrepreneurship training for their youths and loan them seed money so that they can make their business ideas a reality. The initiative is significantly empowering the youths as they venture out into the world.