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International Youth Day: Senait's success story

Senait standing outside her business
Senait standing outside her business

International Youth Day has been celebrated since 1999. This year the theme is “Youth Civic Engagement”. We’re putting a spotlight on Senait from Ethiopia, a young person who is not only working hard to improve her own future, but is also committed to giving back to her local community.

Senait was only two when she joined a loving family in SOS Children’s Village Harar in eastern Ethiopia. She thrived in the Village and, after successfully completing her education, began a three-year clinical nursing course at the Hermann Gmeinar School of Nursing. However after graduating, Senait spent a long time unsuccessfully looking for a nursing job.

Ethiopia has a high youth unemployment rate; the official estimate stands at around 50%. The problem is only set to get worse as the country produces more and more graduates seeking employment; over 150,000 young people graduate every year, a number that will only increase. The government is trying to address the problem and established a unique initiative, encouraging young people to start their own small business to address the problem. The initiative provides training in business-management and support in accessing micro-finance to small groups of entrepreneurial young people.

An exciting venture

Senait was one of the young people to take advantage of the package offered by the government.  Putting her nursing dreams on hold, she opened the doors of the ‘Senait Hermann Chips House’, selling chips, hot drinks, water and soft drinks, in September 2013.

Senait's business
Senait is proud of how far she has come, but this is just the beginning for this young woman

She continued to receive support from SOS Children’s Village Harar, and received a financial boost from her generous sponsor which enabled her expand her business to include meals and a wider range of snacks, and meant she could start saving for the future.

“It helped me attract more customers and my profit margin has grown,” she says happily. “I now make between $10-$18 USD a day and am able to employ young people from the Village who were finding it hard to get a job. Eventually, I hope to grow my business into a hotel.”

Giving back

Senait’s success and dedication have made her a role model for young people across Ethiopia. Children’s Villages and the local communities surrounding them use her experience as a case study to encourage other young people to take a similar route. Senait is proud of her achievements and her business, but what makes her happiest is knowing that she is making a positive difference to her peers and is doing something to help tackle the youth unemployment situation. In her own, small corner of the world, Senait is making a huge difference.

We love inspiring stories about how our young people are succeeding in life. Read how William, from Malawi and John, from Zambia are making their dreams come true.