Self Help Groups in Ethiopia 

The Cause:

Ethiopia has a population over 101 million people and 77.6% of these survive on less than $2 per day.  The country suffers from frequent droughts and floods which result in significant loss of harvest and livestock; causing malnutrition through lack of food.  

In an attempt to alleviate their plight, many people have moved to larger cities. But in the capital city 55% of the population live in overcrowded conditions with poor sanitation and limited access to clean water.  In addition:

  • 42% of children under 5 are stunted
  • 82% of women over 15 are illiterate
  • More than 10.6 million children are used in child labour

The Programme: Self Help Groups 

In 2002 Tearfund helped introduce the Self Help Group approach to Ethiopia.  Since then more than 1.5 million people have participated in this unique, community led approach and their lives have been transformed.  While this is encouraging, there are still millions of people living in poverty. 

Self Help Group Description

A cross between an entrepreneur incubator and a credit union, Self Help Groups are mostly made up of women because they are the most marginalised.  The members learn to recognise their own capability to save money and, using the assets they have, grow a business to lift themselves out of poverty.    

Fundraising for Self Help Groups in Ethiopia 

Tearfund Ireland work with our partners in Ethiopia to establish Self Help Group projects in the southern part of the country.  This 3-year project will directly impact more than 106,625 people.  

This project is co-funded by Irish Aid but we need to raise €138,500 each year for three years in order to continue the project. 

Like many mothers, Buzunesh could often feed her children only once a day and didn’t think she could do anything to change her circumstances. “We were trapped in abject poverty,” she explains. “I never thought I could be capable of doing anything.” After joining a Self Help Group, Buzunesh discovered her potential and God-given abilities. Tangible change followed. She went through the SHG training and applied the principles of saving in order to take out a loan to buy cattle for breeding. “I realised the potential deep inside of me. Now we are sending our children to school, we feed them three meals a day and we buy them clothes twice a year.”

Buzunesh Gebru, an Ethiopian Mum

Pedal for Ethiopia

The Self-Help Group approach unlocks the potential of the individuals,

establishes a culture of entrepreneurship, provides peer support,

empowers women and revitalises communities. 


Watch this short video to learn more