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Cablegate: Under Secretary Otero's Meeting with Women

VZCZCXRO8531
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHGI RUEHJO RUEHMA RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHRN RUEHROV
RUEHTRO
DE RUEHDS #0245/01 0390532
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 080532Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7669
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE
RUCNIAD/IGAD COLLECTIVE
RUEPADJ/CJTF HOA
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEWMFD/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 ADDIS ABABA 000245

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR EEB/IFD/OMA - JWINKLER AND EEB/CBA -
DWINSTEAD
USAID FOR AFR/EA HELLYER AND DALTON
DEPT PASS TO USTR FOR PATRICK COLEMAN, CECILIA KLEIN, AND
BARBARA
GRYNIEWWICZ
DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC FOR ITA MARIA RIVERO
DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC FOR REBECCA KLEIN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ETRD EINV ECON PGOV AF ET
SUBJECT: UNDER SECRETARY OTERO'S MEETING WITH WOMEN
ENTREPRENEURS - FEBRUARY 1, 2010

ADDIS ABAB 00000245 001.2 OF 003


SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. NOT FOR INTERNET DISTRIBUTION.

1. (SBU) February 1, 2010; 6:30 pm; Chief of Mission
Residence, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

2. (SBU) Participants:

United States
-------------
U/S for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero
Charge d'Affaires John Yates
Special Assistant to U/S Otero Caroline Mauldin
Special Advisor to U/S Otero Nicole Goldin
Kary Hintz-Tate (notetaker)

Ethiopia
--------
Nigest Haile, Executive Director, Centre for African Women
Economic Empowerment
Hikmet Abdella, Country Manager, Association for Chartered
Certified Accountants
Martha Getachew, General Manager, ABBA Garment Design PLC
Samrawit Moges, Managing Director, Travel Ethiopia
Sara Abera, General Manager, Muya Ethiopia PLC
Genet Kebede, Owner, Paradise Fashion and GMM Garment
Hadia Gondji, Managing Director, Hadia Flowers PLC
Bogaletch Gebre, Executive Director, KMG Women's Self-Help
Center Ethiopia

Summary
-------

3. (SBU) U/S Otero met with eight members of the Embassy's
Women's Entrepreneur Group (WEG) to discuss the challenges
faced by women in business in Ethiopia. The WEG members
highlighted lack of access to finance and unsophisticated
banking knowledge as the major challenges facing women today.
The participants explained the plans for their
newly-established commercial bank--Enat Bank--focused on
assisting women with these highlighted challenges. Finally,
the discussion turned to how these women are serving as role
models by sharing their knowledge with others. In 2006,
former Charge d'Affaires Vicki Huddleston started the WEG as
an informal group of those interested in promoting women in
business in Ethiopia. The group currently has about 130
members. End Summary.

Access to Finance A Major Challenge
-----------------------------------

4. (SBU) U/S Otero met with eight members of the Embassy's
Women's Entrepreneur Group (WEG) to discuss the challenges
faced by women in business in Ethiopia. U/S Otero opened the
informal discussion detailing her experience working with
women and micro finance and asked the group what were the
major challenges they faced in starting their businesses.
Ms. Abera cited access to finance as a significant obstacle,
as women lack assets in their name to serve as loan
collateral. Most assets are usually listed in the husband's
name. Abera applauded USAID's Development Credit Authority
program which provides 50 percent of the collateral for local
women in business; however, all agreed that it is even
difficult for women to come up with the remaining 50 percent
in collateral. Ms. Abdella pointed out that Ethiopia's
private sector is relatively young and small, so it is even
more difficult for women to gain entry into this undeveloped
and limited business arena. Ms. Gebre added that low skill
levels and lack of banking knowledge disadvantaged women in
business.

5. (SBU) The discussion then turned to how women are working

ADDIS ABAB 00000245 002.2 OF 003


to improve their access to finance and the recently licensed
women-focused bank called Enat Bank (Note: Enat means
"mother" in the local language of Amharic. End Note.). U/S
Otero inquired about how they have gone about starting a
private women's bank in Ethiopia. Ms. Haile, one of the 13
promoters of Enat Bank, stated that they just licensed the
bank with the National Bank of Ethiopia in January 2010 and
are in the process of selling shares to investors through two
local branches. The bank is selling shares at a five percent
premium to cover the start-up operational costs and does not
plan to begin banking operations until 2011. Enat Bank plans
to operate as a commercial bank with a focus on capacity
building for women who seek assistance with business plans,
loan paperwork, etc. U/S Otero cited the need for experts to
assist with such an undertaking, with a specific focus on
market research to determine the best product mix and design
so that loans have a low default risk. U/S Otero noted the
importance of planning for sustainable, break-even operations
within three years. She went on to say that someone, such as
the World Bank/International Finance Corporation, could cover
th risk initially. Abdella added that product innovation is
something that does not exist in Ethiopia today, but should
be pursued. (Comment: U/S Otero remarked to Econoff
privately after this discussion that this new bank faces a
tough road ahead and would greatly benefit from a outside
technical expert that could help them avert failure. Econoff
will continue discussions with U/S Otero's office to
determine what resources could be explored to assist in this
effort. End Comment.)

Women as Role Models
--------------------

6. (SBU) As the final topic of discussion, U/S Otero asked
how these women see themselves as leaders in this economy.
Ms. Kebede discussed the growth of her fashion design
business and said that she now employees about 70 young women
who are learning the design trade. Ms. Getachew spoke of her
work with the group Aid to Artisans, which is working to
develop the product design and production capabilities of
rural women. Getachew's efforts are focused on rural women
supplying goods to their respective nearby tourist areas.
Ms. Moges, owner of a travel agency, then spoke of her work
to boost the overall image of Ethiopia abroad to assist with
tourism and the economy as a whole. She said that Ethiopia
has a lot to offer in terms of history and natural beauty,
but suffers from poor infrastructure, lack of luxury
facilities, and public image. U/S Otero wrapped up the
discussion thanking the participants for sharing their candid
opinions on the challenges facing women in business in
Ethiopia and encouraged them to continue to seek advice in
overcoming these barriers.

Background
----------

7. (SBU) In 2006, previous Charge d'Affaires Vicki Huddleston
started the Women's Entrepreneur Group (WEG) as an informal
group of those interested in promoting women in business.
Ambassador Huddleston and later Ambassador Donald Yamamoto
remained active with this group throughout their tenures in
Ethiopia. Currently, the WEG has about 130 members. Due to
the re-registrations of existing organizations under
Ethiopia's new Civil Society Organization (CSO) law, the WEG
has been unable to officially register itself as a new
organization. The Ethiopian Government will hopefully allow
new organizations to register in the coming months. Once
allowed, the WEG plans to formalize itself as the Addis Ababa
chapter of the international group Organization of Women in
International Trade (OWIT).


ADDIS ABAB 00000245 003.2 OF 003


8. (U) U/S Otero cleared this cable.
YATES

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