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Task Team Leader (TTL)  Message
Salman Alibhai

WEDP has been a landmark initiative, in Ethiopia and globally. As one of the first ever woman-entrepreneur focused line of credit operations, it has demonstrated to the world what a successful model for unlocking larger finance for growth-oriented women entrepreneurs can look like.

WEDP’s results have been impressive. Nearly 20,000 entrpereneurs have accessed WEDP loans and business training. Firms that have participated in WEDP have grown profits by 40.7% and employment by 54.3% over two years. WEDP has received numerous awards and accolades and is serving as a model to inform governments in other countries – in Indonesia, Mexico, Kenya, and Turkey, to name a few. The World Bank Group is exploring how it can work with governments around the world to ‘replicate’ the successful WEDP Ethiopia mode in other countries and regions.

Having been involved with WEDP from its earliest days, over 7 years ago, I’ve had the pleasure of working with a truly outstanding ‘WEDP team’. The success has been a joint one, with leadership from the Federal Urban Job Creation and Food Security Agency, Development Bank of Ethiopia, Ministry of Urban Development and Construction, National Bank of Ethiopia, the Ministry of Finance, and a group of highly committed development partners.

Many people have asked what the key to WEDP’s success is, to learn how it can be replicated in other contexts and countries. There are many answers. Some of it has to do with providing the right incentives for financial institutions. Some of it has to do with understanding the specific challenges like collateral faced by women entrepreneurs. Some of it has to do with utilizing innovative technologies, like the psychometrics or web-based MIS technologies which WEDP deployed.

But the largest element of WEDP’s success has been people. The WEDP team on the ground and their dedication to supporting women entrepreneurs has been remarkable. Some faces have changed since the beginning of WEDP seven years ago, but many have remained the same. The Team Leaders and tehri teams at FUJFCSA and DBE in particular have done an outstanding job of building WEDP into what it is today. The City Coordinators – some of who have been with WEDP for over 5 years – have demonstrated unparalleled commitment and dedication.

And ultimately, those entrepreneurs who have accessed WEDP services, and used this support to further growth their businesses, and employ and help others as they do: they are the heart of WEDP. Their growth and success is not only a benefit to them and their communities, but an inspiration which is echoing beyond Ethiopia’s borders.

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Former Task Team Leader (TTL) Message
Francesco Strobbe
My WEDP journey

 

Summarizing the WEDP journey in few lines is not an easy task. It’s a journey that started back in 2011 with the project’s design and then officially took off at the end of 2012 when the project was declared “effective”. Since then it has been growing continuously, in terms of results, in terms of funding, in terms of knowledge generated. Today, it stands out as a flagship project of the World Bank in Ethiopia, often cited in several high-level fora as an exemplary model for financing women entrepreneurs and continuously attracting the interest of other countries willing to replicate a similar experience.

What made it so successful? Well, lots of different ingredients that, mixed together, have created a unique formula. First of all, the team: a very large team of stakeholders involved in WEDP implementation, including the Government of Ethiopia (MoFEC, MoUDH, DBE, NBE), Microfinance Institutions, TVETs, the World Bank, development partners (UK, Canada, Italy, Japan) and technical assistance providers (Enterprise Partners). The Project Implementation Units in FUJICSA (former FeMSEDA) and DBE have shown an extraordinary dedication to the project’s objectives and this has led each of the other stakeholders to bring to the table a strong commitment in working for the success of WEDP. The establishment of an implementation committee (called WIC – WEDP Implementation Committee) that meets once a month and works on the basis of a detailed action matrix with the support of 5 dedicated task forces (i.e. on training, line of credit, M&E, communication and impact evaluation) has contributed to make implementation smooth and effective.

Secondly, a strong drive for innovation that is keeping WEDP at the edge of the innovation frontier: the piloting of financial technologies solutions such as psychometric testing and the use of data-driven lending techniques is helping microfinance institutions to lower the excessively high collateral requirements that are often perceived as the first obstacle for accessing finance, especially in the case of women entrepreneurs. WEDP could have easily just relied on its “traditional” line of credit that still today plays a major role in the disbursement rates of the project. Instead, I believe it’s the capacity of WEDP to constantly innovate itself that makes it so interesting and successful today. Its online Management Information System (MIS), connecting in real team 45 OSSs, 12 MFIs, 11 TVETs is another extraordinary example of a unique tool developed within WEDP that can be replicated in other projects and contexts to enhance project’s management in a very transparent and participated way.

Of course, there have been also difficult moments. At the beginning WEDP had to face the resistance of MFIs to change their business model and accept a mandatory package of technical assistance as a condition for accessing the dedicated liquidity. Here as well, the perseverance, competence and tireless capacity building effort played by the staff of the DFID-funded Enterprise Partners (EP) have succeeded in showing to MFIs that knowledge is never enough and that there were unserved market segments that, if addressed with the right approach and instruments, would have proved to be profitable while at the same time contributing to key development outcomes. As such, WEDP was able to significantly change the MFIs’ culture in Ethiopia, helping the largest public and private MFIs to lend on an individual basis and with increasingly larger average loan sizes.

Going forward, I expect WEDP to continue to play a strong advocacy role for financing women entrepreneurs, as an engine of job creation and inclusive growth. The additional funding made available through the co-financing agreements recently signed with Italy and Japan will allow to continue to serve this market segment through both traditional and more innovative approaches. However, despite its clear success in attracting funding, the challenge for WEDP will be to become overtime fully self-sustainable and I believe this target is not too far, as we have seen already MFIs starting to use their own funds over the last 18 months when the initial WEDP allocation for the line of credit was exhausted.

Over the years, several team members have been part of the WEDP family, each of them providing a unique contribution to what remains today a project of the Government of Ethiopia for the people of Ethiopia, and rightly so. I’m particularly proud of the fact that the WEDP team in the World Bank has seen its Ethiopian component growing over time and taking increasingly important roles in several aspects of WEDP implementation. So, my sincere thank you goes to the many team members that have supported WEDP over these years and of course to all those that are still today actively involved in implementing WEDP on a day to day basis, in different capacities and roles but always with the same level of passion and dedication.

WEDP has been for me an exceptional experience and I felt extremely privileged to lead such an amazing team. Projects can be interesting, impactful, complex, inspiring. But quite rarely a project can be all of this while at the same time being also fun to work on. Well, WEDP is that unique case of a mix of all these attributes. It’s a project that has accompanied not only my professional career over the past 6 years but it has also characterized some key milestones of my personal life with the birth of my two kids who have become naturally familiar with Ethiopia given my frequent travels to Addis Ababa. Ethiopia is the first country they are able to find on a map and I’m sure that they will grow with same love and deep respect for the Ethiopian culture that I have and that, no matter where the World Bank’s career will take me in the world, will always remain part of me.

Amessaghenallu.

Francesco

 

Few words about WEDP

Women Entrepreneurship Development Project (WEDP) is a project providing training and credit to micro and small enterprises owned or partly owned by the participating female entrepreneurs in Addis Ababa, Dire Dawa, Mekele, Bahir Dar, Adama , Hawassa, Assela, Axum, Dilla and Gondar Cities to increase the earnings and employment of the enterprises.

 

Component 1:  Access to Microfinance

The aim of the component is to facilitate access to financial services for female growth oriented entrepreneurs by providing working capital and investment finance through a dedicated line of credit. At the same time, the component aims at improving the capacity of existing MFIs to serve female growth oriented entrepreneurs with tailored financial products.

The component is based on a two-tier structure where the Development Bank of Ethiopia (DBE) will act as an MSE finance wholesaler engaged in the business of lending to qualified Participating Financial Institutions (PFIs) with the specific requirement of on-lending only to female-owned or partly female-owned micro and small enterprises. The PFIs will engage in the retail distribution of sub loans to this specific target of MSE clients. The lending activities operated by DBE and the MFIs triggers ,Intermediary Lending, and WEDP has been designed to fully comply with this operational policy .

 

Component 2: Entrepreneurial skills Development

The aim of this component is to develop growth oriented women entrepreneurs’ skills, facilitate their access to more productive technologies that can raise their incomes, and help unleash synergies from clustering. This will be achieved through designing and implementing a capacity building technical assistance program to strengthen the capacity of the institutions that will provide direct services to the WEDP participants, particularly the One Stop Shops and TVET colleges, and the supporting/coordinating institutions such as the City MSE Development Offices.

 

Component 3: Project Management, advocacy and outreach, Monitoring & Evaluation and Impact Evaluation.

Project Management Team is a National Project Management Team (NPMT) within FUJCFSA under the Ministry of Urban Development and Construction (MoUDC). The operational responsibility for the project implementation in the regions will rest with the City Offices, MFIs and TVET colleges using OSS as the entry point. The existing federal coordinating body for MSE development, the National MSE Development Council, will be supplemented with representatives of the Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Association and the Ethiopian Women Entrepreneurs Association and will have the overall coordinating role of the WEDP. This will ensure coordination and support from the multiple sectors involved in the project.

 

Mahlet Solomon

Hawassa City Coordinator mahlet@wedpet.org +251941052754 Hawassa , Ethiopia .

Suriat Jemal

Addis Ababa City Coordinator Suriat @wedpet.org +251920722917 Addis Ababa , Ethiopia .

Ziyen Mekonen

Addis Ababa City Coordinator Ziyen@wedpet.org +251911829274 Addis Ababa , Ethiopia .

Dareskedar Abebe

Dareskedar Abebe City Coordinator dareskedar@wedpet.org +251941052754 Dire Dawa , Ethiopia .

Abeba Gidey Gezu

Abeba Gidey Gezu City Coordinator abeba@wedpet.org +251941009785 Mekele , Ethiopia .

WEDP Team

Muluken Tesfaye
City Coordinator

muluken@wedpet.org +251960973013 Adama , Ethiopia .

Sintayehu Girma
City Coordinator

Sintayehu@wedpet.org +251910355537 Dilla , Ethiopia .

Yabebal Mezgebu
City Coordinator

yabebal@wedpet.org +251918764538 Gondar , Ethiopia

Belaynesh Nigussie
City Coordinator

belaynesh@wedpet.org +251918764538 Bahir Dar , Ethiopia