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Merharriet s an electrician working at a 200-acre condominium development | by World Bank Photo Collection
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Merharriet s an electrician working at a 200-acre condominium development

Merharriet Hailemariam, 26, studied to be a journalist, but today she is an electrician working at a 200-acre condominium development 45 minutes from downtown Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Merharriet switched professions when learned she could earn more money as an electrician, and convinced two sisters and two friends to follow her example. She now would like to get a degree in construction technology and management. Working as an entrepreneur is much better than being an employee of an organization, says Merharriet. She adds that there is a lot of opportunity for women in construction, though few women work in the field. Many people think the construction sector is only for men, but women can install electricity as well as any man, she says. Research has shown that women who crossover into male dominated sectors in Ethiopia earn on average double the profits and employ double the number of employees as women who sort into traditionally female sectors. Hailemariam was among the more than 5,000 women who have received entrepreneurship training under the World Bank-financed Women’s Entrepreneurship Development Project in Ethiopia. The project aims to close financing gender gaps and unlock capital, particularly for growth-oriented businesses that need bigger loans equivalent to $10,000 or more. The project provides a $50 million line of credit to financial institutions financing women-owned micro and small businesses in Ethiopia. About 76% of borrowers had never had a loan before, yet the repayment rate to date is 99.4%. Photo: © Stephan Gladieu / World Bank

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Taken on June 29, 2015