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From sponsored child to successful entrepreneur

With support from SOS Children Winta was able to open her own beauty parlour, The Hawassa Salon
With support from SOS Children Winta was able to open her own beauty parlour, The Hawassa Salon

When Winta was just a child she came to live at SOS Children’s Village Hawassa in Ethiopia. Today, the 24-year-old is a successful salon owner. SOS Children provides orphaned and abandoned children with the necessary elements to become successful adults.

“My dream is to continue growing my business and save enough money so I can buy myself an apartment,” says Winta, a former sponsored child who continues to see the benefits of SOS Children.

A bright future

Growing up in the Hawassa Village, Winta had access to quality education and the loving care of her SOS mother. However, she struggled in school and did not know what she wanted to pursue after graduation.

When Winta completed secondary school she decided to enrol at the SOS vocational training centre. She studied at a hair dressing training institute for six months and landed an internship at a local salon. Winta gained valuable experience working with clients, and the internship eventually turned into a career. Two years later, the SOS programme in partnership with a local organisation that helps young people with start-ups, assisted Winta in opening her own salon.

A women is cutting hair at her salon she was able to purchase after attending the SOS vocational centre in Hawassa, Ethiopia
Winta is busy cutting hair at her salon in Hawassa, Ethiopia

With the help of the programme, Winta and five of her former classmates were able to purchase a piece of land and open The Hawassa Salon. In addition, Winta was able to purchase the salon’s first chair, hair clippers, a mirror and pay rent for the first six months.

Ethiopia produces over 150,000 graduates each year. The government is encouraging young people to start small businesses in groups in order to access micro-finance. The goal is to reduce the country’s youth unemployment rate.

“I am happy that I am now self-sufficient”

Four years after opening the salon, Winta and her business partners received a gift from SOS Children for USD $2,800. The money allowed Winta to update her salon.

“I bought four more chairs – we now have six – fixed the floor, improved the lighting, increased the number of mirrors and the atmosphere in the salon has completely changed,” she says. “The remaining amount is in a savings account.”

Her bustling salon is located in Hawassa City, north of Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa. With a range of services from haircuts to nail treatments, The Hawassa Salon has a long list of loyal clients.

“Thursday is one of our busiest days,” says Winta as she ushers her client to sit on the salon chair. “Other hectic days are Friday and Saturday. We do our best to satisfy our customers so they keep coming back. Most of our regulars work with the government.”

The salon earns approximately USD $3 a day allowing her to save around USD $48 dollars a month.

“I am happy that I am now self-sufficient and I am able to extend a helping hand to someone else,” says Winta. “I have decided to educate my younger brother and sister who live in the rural areas and take care of their upkeep.”

SOS vocational training

SOS Children provides over 50 vocational training centres worldwide. The centres offer skill training in a variety of trades ranging from engineering to catering. The centres work closely with local employers to offer students career advice and work experience. 

Find out what happens next when young people are old enough to leave an SOS Village.