About us

Organization for Women in Self Employment (WISE) is a local non-governmental organization originally registered with the Ministry of Justice in August, 1997 and reregistered with the Charities and Societies Agency in 2009. WISE commenced its full programme operation in January, 1998. The Organization has been working mainly with low-income self-employed women and girls in their efforts to achieve self-reliance and improve the quality of their lives. The major focus areas are the economic and social empowerment of women and girls and thus, the improvement of their position and condition in society.
With a vision of seeing a nation where absolute poverty is eradicated and women play active part in development, the Organization has been striving to make its contribution meaningful through designing a programme and interventions that address the core issues of poverty and dependence among the target members. Although WISE directly focuses on the economic and social empowerment of women micro enterprise operators, the interventions are equally appropriate for men and women farmers and as well as vulnerable groups. The business skills, health education, leadership and management, life skills, financial education, literacy and numeracy and technical skills trainings have been instrumental to change the quality of lives of the target women and their families.

The direct target groups of WISE are poor self-employed women and girls in Addis Ababa who are mainly engaged in home based production and micro-scale trading activities and unemployed women and girls who wish to engage in micro-enterprise operations. Currently, WISE focuses its programme attention on 68 Woredas within eight of the ten sub-cities of Addis Ababa namely; Kirkos, Nefas-Silk-Lafto, Akaki-Kaliti, Addis Ketema, Kolfe-Keranio, Gulele,Bole and Yeka. The justification for focusing on these geographical areas of Addis Ababa is the deepened poverty among most residents and the related socio-economic situations that challenge women’s status and position.

Since its commencement of operation in 1998, WISE has reached quite a high size of community members by implementing its programme in all parts of the country. So far, more than 40,000 women and girls have been reached through 85 Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs) established in Addis Ababa. These women and girls have been assisted to initiate or expand their preferred lines of micro-enterprise operations through getting organized in Saving and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs) and accessing various financial and non-financial services. Furthermore, a Union, an umbrella institution of the cooperatives, has been established to ensure the sustainability of services when WISE ceases its direct support to the cooperatives.

A total loan of over Birr 400 million has been disbursed through the cooperatives and Union for the purpose of running businesses, making down payments for condominium housing units and covering children's school costs. On the other hand, over Birr 120 million has been mobilized as savings from the members of the SACCOs. The Union and SACCOs have been recognized as exemplary to others due to their being effective, sustainable and profitable.

The Organization has accumulated rich experience in developing curricula and delivering training to diversified groups of people such as youth, people living with HIV, returnees from the Middle East countries, aspiring migrants, factory workers, and farmers by using participatory techniques of adult training and the concept of Asset Based Community-driven Development.

Remarkable results have been achieved as a result of these interventions. To mention a few: targeted members started their own businesses and became self-reliant; those who were already in business when joining the programme improved and expanded their businesses; many have been able to hire unemployed individuals into their businesses. As a survey on 1000 members selected randomly revealed, 82% of the sampled respondents indicated that they feel successful due to positive changes in their quality of lives, improved self-confidence and decision making, and participation in matters that affect their lives. Factors for their success included, as they stated, the training programme of WISE, the follow-up and financial services they could access through their SACCOs.
The Organization works in partnership with various governmental and non- governmental as well as private and community institutions to meet the development needs of low income, underprivileged societies in Ethiopia. To date, WISE has delivered Training of Trainers (TOT) in Business Management skills, Financial Literacy, Leadership and Management, Life Skills and other related topics to close to 1000 880 staff of 175 Government, non-governmental, private and community organizations. Moreover, over 30,000 target members of over 240 like-minded organizations, located in all regions of the country, except Somali regional state, have received the direct training services of WISE in different subject areas and coaching of staff and leaders of SACCOs.