Addis Tasfa (New Hope): Micro-loans for Ethiopian Israelis

Addis Tasfa (New Hope) is the name of the JHH micro-finance project for Ethiopian immigrants in the Ramat Eliyahu neighborhood of Rishon LeZion. Of 50 participants in the JHH business training program, 16 have businesses that have been created or greatly enhanced, an extraordinarily high success rate in this kind of work. Their businesses include a grocery store, clothing stores (with services to repair Ethiopian style ovens to prepare injera bread), a hairdresser salon, a spices/beans store and a high-end designer clothing shop.

Tasfa

One store, owned by Shababo (pictured here) is doing very well, selling $3000 traditional Ethiopian wedding outfits!

The model for the third and final year was more like a business club with monthly meetings which were offered to the 16 successful program graduates, plus owners of a select group of 10 other area businesses. The program provided expert resource people and one-on-one mentoring.

At the graduation ceremony for the first group of graduates, Zeeva stood and said that she was at the opening meetings, and that she was one who said: It will not work. It cannot be done. Ethiopians will not complete the course, nor will they open or enhance businesses. And now, look at their proud and smiling faces, see their families with hope for a better future.

People come up and say: Do you know why JHH succeeded when no one else in Israel has been able to help Ethiopians to become entrepreneurs? You came so often and you listened to us; you made each of us a real part of the team; you became part of our extended families.

We were told that there is an old Ethiopian proverb: one filament spun by a spider is weak and easily broken, but a web can capture a tiger. So it was here as well. Pulling together we became the hands of G-d and worked miracles in the lives of these families.

Eitan Paldi, a professional evaluator of programs like ours, wrote these words: We believe that Addis Tasfa has significantly helped to advance the Ethiopian community, by the feeling of empowerment and by the many benefits they received from participating, beyond the receiving of loans and business training.