First Published in March 2018

Everything about Carry 117 ticks all the right boxes in my view – working in a “hidden” part of Addis a stones throw away from the affluent neighborhoods of Old Airport but not an area that attracts many visitors; it is the community that absorbs the waste of the city instead – the mountain of which tragically killed many residents last year when there was a devastating landslide.  The Carry 117 compound is indeed located right at the base of the rubbish mountain in the very core of the Kore community.

While the area of Kore over the years has attracted the attention of and help from numerous groups that mainly sponsor women and orphans, there are not many that go beyond compassion and take the holistic view of giving their workers (primarily women who used to scavenge from the rubbish tip) not just the chance at a better life but also the dignity of earning an income enough to independently provide for and support their families.

They receive a monthly salary and they also have a personal savings account that Carry 117 opens for them. Each month, the ladies are expected to deposit a portion of their paycheck into their personal savings account, which in turn Carry 117 promises to match. For the first time in their lives, these women are planning and saving for their future. They also provide outreach to other less fortunate members of the city including recently participating in a Piassa feeding program and engaging with orphans in orphanages – this is part of the community outreach that Carry 117 believes in and encourages.

Carry 117 believes that economic empowerment provides the foundation necessary for sustainable development. The Carry 117 model revolves around this belief, going beyond charity to support income alternatives. As the women involved in this project are empowered, their families will be strengthened and preserved and as a result the local community and the country as a whole will benefit.

Women are hired and trained to sew (a local tailor with his own business offered to provide services in training the women and still oversees production). They make a range of lovely bags and accessories all made from locally sourced materials. The items are sold locally at bazaars and from their on site shop as well as being exported for sale abroad.

At the helm of this group is a young Ethiopian man Henok Berhanu Founder and CEO, who was brought up by a hard working single mother and after university a job as a translator led him to the community of Kore which was a far cry from the comfort of Bole where he had been raised. After witnessing the need he had the passion and was inspired to create something that would empower the women he encountered who felt they had no viable options in life. He was determined to devise a program that would provide a Hand Up not just a Hand Out and thus Carry 117 was created with income generating possibilities at its core.

Isaiah 1.17 “learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause


Instagram @carry117

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