Empowering female entrepreneurs in Ethiopia

Focusing on women living in the slums of Addis Ababa, our project with CARE in Ethiopia aimed to show that women could significantly improve their lives by becoming entrepreneurs. The results are a great success.

The total donation of 20 million Swedish krona to this project, was made possible by H&M customers. During the holiday season of 2014, the H&M Foundation made a donation for every holiday gift label set that was sold to an H&M customer.

Challenges in Ethiopia

In Ethiopia a third of the population live below the poverty line. At the same time the population in the capital Addis Ababa is growing rapidly. This means that more people in the city are in urgent need of services, infrastructure and employment. A lack of capacity to meet these demands has further increased poverty, unemployment and other socioeconomic problems in the capital.

Around 40% of the people in Addis Ababa who are lucky enough to have a job are on informal employments, working without secure contracts, worker benefits or social protection. These circumstances mainly affect women. Women are also subject to discrimination in labour and getting access to credit, have less influence over finances and assets within the home and usually own less property than men.

Women usually have less time on their hands, because of the time spent on working within the household. Even when women do get paid for work, the return is lower compared to men, and their jobs are often part-time and insecure.

Women empowering other women

This project innovatively focused on the development of a small group of women-led social enterprises. Women have expressed how aware they are of not only their own development, and their family’s, but also their mark on the community: how can they make a positive impact in the community that they live in.

The project achieved great results; 5,000 women were reached with basic business training, 665 women-led enterprises received advanced business development support and 50 social businesses were established. CARE also supported these women to set up and run their own savings and loans associations.

As a result, the women improved the quality of their enterprises, increased their income and, ultimately, were able to take out and repay loans. By the end of the project the women included in the project stated that they had increased their income by 500% and whereas about 70% of the target group did not have any savings in the beginning of the project, this number was reduced to 3.6% in 2018!



female entrepreneurs from low-income communities gained access to knowledge and basic skills on enterprise development.


women-led enterprises received advanced business development support.


increase in income were stated by women included in the project by the project end.

  • Total donation: 20 million Swedish krona
  • People reached by 2018: 5,000
  • Partners: Care

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Global Program for Equality

Women and girls around the world are disproportionately affected by poverty and discrimination. In all regions, women spend at least twice as much time as men on unpaid domestic work, but are often not allowed to make decisions that affect their own lives. Women from the poorest communities worldwide reveal enormous potential. Despite difficult circumstances, they can successfully change their own – and their family’s – future. Through H&M Foundation’s global program with CARE, almost 270,000 women were supported 2014-2020. The success of the women has been astounding, with their daily enterprise earnings increasing by an average of 91% across all countries.