Jittu Birra Self help group goes beyond solving economic problems; Ayelech

Ayelech Kebede lives in Chancho town with her two children named, Tejitu Giza (female) 13 years old Shimeles Giza (male) 11 years old. Both are getting support from ISAPSO’s CFTC project.Ayelech explains how she benefited from the project.
“For 11 years I was taking care of my husband who was suffering from ‘lung disease (TB).As you can imagine, life was difficult for me as I had the responsibility to care for my husband as well as my young children. I was unable to cover my household and medical expenses all by myself. When my husband finally died, I planned to start a small retail business, but I had no idea where I could get the capital from. To borrow some money from people or the bank was unthinkable for the poorest of the poor woman like me. So I tried to receive some commodities from other retailers in the market and sell, but that was not profitable at all.

That was time ISAPSO came to our locality with new ideas that didn’t come to our mind before. In fact the organization brought an idea that changed the lives of money women like me in the locality. Parents with children in the CFTC Project and who were in similar economic status were given training on business development skill and were supported to form a self help group with 17 memebers.The self help group is known as “Jittu Birra’ roughly meaning “a green spot in dry season” in Oromifa.
All members of the Jittu birra self help group including myself started saving on a weekly basis. The amount we saved depended on our ability and our willingness to save. However, we met and discussed on issues such as interest, credit and the time limit to finish paying debts. As all the group members lived together in the same locality for a very long time, everyone knows each other. So making decisions on who deserve the credit was not a problem. For example, if a member couldn’t save at one time for one reason or another, we would help her to do that.
I started a small retail business using my first credit from my self help group. After three rounds of borrowing and paying back, my capital grew to 3500 birr. On top of that, I collected 3500 birr from my Iqub at one time and 1200 another time.
As a result of the saving and vegetables and cereal trade, my life has changed for the better. I used to buy food items for home consumption on daily basis, but now I buy food stuff enough for longer period. I now get water from pipe line installed for my own house. I have been fenced my compound with corrugated iron sheets. More, importantly, I have now developed confidence in myself more than ever before and can meet the basic needs of my family.
There are a number of things I have learnt from the project one of it being the advantages of saving and being organized in self help group. In fact, our jittu Birra self group has gone beyond solving our economic problems. It made us strong, contributing, members of the community. We help each other both during times of happiness and sorrow. We share experiences on how best to raise children and do business better. The group has become a forum to discuss on health, environment, job and other social issues. I just want to thank all of those who helped us to come together and succeed. May God bless all who have been involved.”