Meet Yetemwork & her family


Whilst in Ethiopia we met Yetemwork and her family. Find out how savings groups have changed their lives.


Yetemwork lives with her husband and three children. For 7 years she has been a member of a savings and loans group. The first loan she took was used to buy metal sheets to build a room behind her house to rent out. This investment allowed for her to pay back her loan, and she has since continued to take loans to improve her livelihood, and all her loans have been paid back successfully.

Yetemwork's husband's daughter has had her first child. An Ethiopian cultural practice known as ma-re-see requires that the daughter and her baby be looked after Yetemwork in her home. Yetemwork has bought an additional bed using her most recent loan. It will be given to her children to share when the daughter and her baby leave.

Next year, when I can have another loan, I want to buy an electric pan for cooking bread.

Yetemwork's son, Mikey, has been inspired to start saving himself. Mikey saves the little money he recieves from jobs like carrying furniture.

He used his first savings to buy a Nokia feature phone, he will now save up for a driver's license, ready for when he turns 18.

In the beginning I didn’t understand why we could not use the money when we had some. Being in a savings group has really changed the way that I think - really the way that our whole family thinks.

Mikey explains that poverty is something that kids at school try to hide by wearing nice clothes. Parents often give allowance for when they are hanging out with their friends.

I see now how savings have changed the way we live. That’s why I am saving up for the driver’s license. It will be important to have to get a job in the future.

Yetemwork's eldest daughter saves up in a makeshift plastic bottle piggy bank that she cut a hole in. Sometimes she will lend money to her parents and siblings, keeping a record in her notebook. She learnt this from attending savings and loans group meetings with her mother.

Even Yetemwork's youngest daughter has been saving without anyone knowing. Cleaning under a rug one day, Yetemwork found a small bag of money which turned out to be the savings of her little girl. She had seen others in her family saving and wanted to save too. She has seen that her mother can sometimes get sick and would like to have some money just in case. When she grows up, she wants to study to become a doctor.


Ethiopia has a large savings group culture, with many different types. The most common is equb, a system where each member contributes a fixed amount each month, allowing one person to take the whole pot that month the make a large purchase. Yetemwork's husband is part of such a group in the public office where he works. Beside his job, he also repairs clothes, saving the money for family emergencies.

The savings and loans group has taught Yetemwork the value of loans. In Ethiopia, loans are often viewed as something you should only take when in desperate need. But Yetemwork knows that in the right circumstances, it can increase her livelihood.

Being in a savings and loans group has built a strong network in the community for me. People see what I have built with my loans and respect me for that.

With the pan, Yetemwork will be able to bake and sell the traditional Ethiopian bread, Difo Dabo, for yearly special occasions. In essence, starting her own micro-bakery.

I know the money I can get from the loan is not enough, so I am putting aside all the savings that I can. We’ve discussed the idea and my husband will also invest some of his money towards the electric cooker.

Meeting Yetemwork, we at Jamiipay were amazed at what she managed to do with the loans from the savings and loans group. We were encouraged by the effects it has had on the mentality of everyone in her family. We are even more motivated to develop a system that will allow Yetemwork and people like her to have better access to more loans and bigger loans to realise their big dreams.

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