Ethiopia is the 12th most populated country in the world with more than 40% of people below 15 years old. Unemployment rates estimated as of 2012 show that Ethiopia ranks in at 18%. That means in terms of unemployment rates around the world, out of the 217 countries surveyed, Ethiopia came in at 179. A breakdown by gender shows 17.1% of young men and 30.9% of young women are unemployed as of 2016.
As shown by the numbers, in this region it can be challenging for women to find work. Because International is excited to increase the number of jobs that are accessible to women in Ethiopia by working with Anbessa Shoe Share Company who employs a workforce that is 60% female. At Anbessa, our shoe orders provide full time work for 25 employees annually.
Anbessa is owned by 7 shareholders, the largest being native Ethiopian Tedela Yezengaw. Established in 1935, they are the oldest shoe manufacturing business in Ethiopia and produce 10,000 pairs of shoes per day. Their customer base has grown from meeting local needs to serving the international community, supplying shoes for well known brands like J.Crew, DSW, and others.
We love working with Anbessa because they focus on treating their employees well and producing high quality Ethiopian-made shoes. Employee lunches are subsidized, so workers only pay 1/10 of the cost. An onsite medical clinic that is in compliance with the National Set of Standards of Ethiopia offers free health checks to employees. First-aid supplies are maintained and they ensure an adequate amount of personnel are always on staff to help in case of an emergency.
Luke Goodman, Director of Operations at Because International, has personally toured the facilities. He added, “It was a beautiful campus that was spacious and well lit. Employees got their own lockers to put their belongings, a changing room with private showers and a cafeteria with a variety of food choices that was cleaned regularly.”
Their facilities have been built according to the National Building Code of Conduct and Health and Safety Standards and FDRA Footwear Production Code of Conduct. This means there is a centralized fire alarm system that can be heard and seen by all employees, emergency evacuation plans and clear, unlocked exits.
At Anbessa, all employees must meet the minimum working age according to the national and International Labor Organization (ILO) standards. Strict regulation ensures that there will never be children working on campus.
Aside from job creation, local and regional production brings many additional benefits. One is lower shipping costs for donors. For example, if 100 pairs of The Shoe That Grows are shipped from the U.S. to Uganda or Kenya, shipping with DHL will cost around $650. And that’s including the discount DHL gives to nonprofits. Without that discount, it would cost around $3,000 to ship 100 pairs of shoes to Uganda or Kenya. Producing shoes in Ethiopia means free shipping for 100 pairs to any location in Kenya and around $150 to ship 100 pairs to anywhere in Uganda.
Production for Because International means taking the products we develop, like The Shoe That Grows and Bednet Buddy, and manufacturing them where they are most needed. We work with local factories who provide quality jobs that can help keep families together and provide a path out of poverty.
Plans are being made to expand this method of impact to Haiti by the end of 2019. Now that we have started producing in Ethiopia, Because is equipped with the knowledge base and experience to pursue making good things happen in more places.