One cannot talk about Ethiopian food culture without mentioning enjera. The consumption of enjera is one of the food cultures that has been passed through generations and is a delicacy that makes part of the daily meal in most, if not all Ethiopian households. Enjera is made from teff- a cereal that is one of the major staple crops grown in Ethiopia.
While the bulk of teff is grown in Central Ethiopia, it is a high-value cereal due to its popularity and demand across the country. This makes it a major source of income for farmers- both large and small scale. To set up a sustainable and consistent teff value chain and improve the aggregation capacity and market linkages, 2SCALE partnered with Kesem Union, a grassroots champion with the central aspiration of improving the aggregation capacity and market linkage of teff in Ethiopia.
Availing affordable and quality teff to Base of the Pyramid (BoP) Consumers is a key ambition for this partnership. To enhance the reach of quality teff aggregated by Kesem to low-income consumers, MSMEs engaged in processing teff have been empowered with the necessary skills and equipment to build sustainable businesses. Among them is Demekach, Mekdes, and friends Enjera Processing Group, a women-only group that currently has four members who have set up an enjera baking business in central Ethiopia. While unemployment led them to develop an interest in setting up a business, they lacked the initial capital and the necessary skills to start and run a business. This was until they were linked to 2SCALE and Kesem Union through job Creation & Enterprises Development Bureau which is also part of the field-level governance system of the partnership.
34-year-old Demekach narrates:
Seven months ago, we got linked to the 2SCALE program through Job Creation & Enterprises Development Bureau . We had registered in the woreda office trying to seek employment and skills acquisition through the local Training and Vocational Instituteafter legally registering as an enterprise at the Job Creation & Enterprises Development Bureau When we heard of the intervention to be equipped with the necessary skills and equipment to set up an enjera baking business, we immediately expressed interest. 2SCALE and Kesem Union trained us, facilitated market linkages and set up a well-equipped facility where we could kick start our business.
While promoting inclusivity as well as the creation of job opportunities are major goals of the partnership, empowering women into enjera baking business is a key step towards ensuring that low-income consumers get access to nutritious food at affordable prices. Kesem Union supplies quality Minjar teff-one of the most sought-after teff variety due to its rich taste and nutritional value- to the women on a credit basis.
While some enjera bakers adulterate teff by mixing it with other cereals like wheat, rice, sorghum, corn and barley we decided to promote the consumption of Minjar teff and ensure that consumers get access to quality enjera made out of pure Teff. Minjar teff produces thick textured enjera which is a perfect accompaniment for stews such as bean-based Shiro. Seven months since we set up the business, we supply ready-to-eat enjera to three hotels and we also sell to an average of 180 retail buyers a day. Each enjera costs 10 ETB ($0.19) which is affordable especially since we use the best quality teff to prepare it.
Marketing to reach more consumers
To ensure sustainability and retention of consumers who buy enjera from them, Demekach, Mekdes, and friends circulate brochures to nearby locations to spread the word on the availability of quality enjera prepared using Minjar teff. Most customers appreciate enjera baked using Minajr teff and this has led to the growth of their enterprise due to the consistency of the consumers. Consequentially, these consumers refer other buyers to purchase quality enjera from the bakery.
We get so many referrals from those who have purchased our enjera and appreciate its quality, rich taste, and thick texture. This is one of the strategies that has led to the sustainable growth of our business. We have also distributed brochures to the nearby towns to attract more buyers. We are also considering setting up an outlet in the nearby center to have more visibility and attract more buyers. This will also help us to make more sales since there is competition from other people in the enjera business.