Yenegat Chora

Yenegat Chora is a non-profit organization in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Through a vocational skill development program in weaving, Yenegat Chora works to reduce high unemployment, illiteracy and poverty seen among women in Ethiopia. Our program teaches the skills and gives its participants the tools to become the self sufficient, empowered entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

In Ethiopia, handloom weaving is a tradition with deep roots. For generations, many households have depended on weaving to earn an income and sustain livelihoods. Handloom weaving in Ethiopia is a demanding trade, and is an art that is traditionally passed down from father to son. Today, nearly all weavers in Ethiopia are men. Historically, however, the spinning of the cotton required for weaving is done by women. One myth that has been perpetuated to keep women from becoming weavers and therefore earning as much as men is that weaving is harmful to their reproductive health. Yenegat Chora is working to change the narrative that defines the roles of women and empower them to participate in this tradition and in their community as equals.

"I believe that in building the capacity of women as entrepreneurs and problem solvers through the indigenous tradition of weaving, we will achieve our vision for a self-sustaining model and economic empowerment for women in Ethiopia."

I was orphaned at the age of 6 and adopted by my American family at the age of 11. Ever since I was young I have known that I wanted to make a positive impact in my birth country of Ethiopia. As an undergraduate at Elon University, where I received my bachelor's in Public Health in 2017, I completed an independent, needs-based assessment and initiated the necessary groundwork to take steps towards realizing my lifelong dream of establishing Yenegat Chora - weaving a brighter future.

"When my American family adopted me, they provided me with a second opportunity at life, including a loving family and an emphasis on education. As I look at my life and all that I have received and achieved, I am grateful for this opportunity everyday. Through my education and work experience, I now have the tools to change the lives of marginalized women in Ethiopia living in poverty, and to give back to my country of birth in a way I always dreamed of. I believe , “to whom much is given, much is expected”. My American family provided me a path for success, and I feel a responsibility to pay it forward and pave the road for others. Establishing Yenegat-Chora as a college student was my way of creating something bigger than myself. Building an organization that has the ability to create a lifelong impact, by empowering marginalized women living in poverty in Ethiopia, is exactly what I dreamed of.  My goal is to do everything I can to have a positive impact on the lives of female heads of households who have no means of economic security in Ethiopia. Y-C creates opportunities for these women to become drivers and leaders of their lives, families and communities. I ask you to join me. I can’t do it alone, but together we can."   - Josephine Gardner
Yenegat Chora uses a comprehensive selection process to identify highly marginalized women with minimal means to support themselves and their families.. Each program cohort is made up of 15 women who are trained and receive certification in the art of indigenous weaving. The total time it takes each cohort to complete the training course is six months, therefore a total of 30 women are graduating from the program annually. Each cohort also spends an additional six months completing training in entrepreneurship, leadership and business skills. Expenses are covered for all participants throughout the duration of their training and their children are provided educational support in the form of school uniforms, materials and funds to cover the cost of tuition. Upon completion of their training and a final examination, each woman receives professional certification, which will allow them to seek and obtain employment with textile companies as professional and artisan weavers. Yenegat Chora also provides participants with a weaving loom, supports them in establishing their own small scale business enterprise and connects graduates to international markets to sell their textile products.   

Yenegat Chora seeks $30,000 for the 2019 year - 100% of funds raised will be used to cover operational expenses including (but not limited to):

- Workshop space
- Raw materials (i.e. thread)
- Salaries for staff
- Travel stipends for program participants
- Support for participants’ children (school uniforms, textbooks, registration fees, etc.), and
- Access to weaving looms for participants upon graduation

In the coming year Yenegat Chora is also looking forward to providing a variety of life skill workshops focused on health and well-being. We are also working to create a garden, the produce from which will be used to provide the participants with meals.

Join us in Weaving A Brighter Future and help us reach our goal of $30,000 by January 1, 2019!

Funding & Awards
Josephine Gardner received the Ward Family Learning in Action Award from Elon University in 2015. In 2016, she was awarded the Leadership Prize Award at Elon, which she used to conduct the independent needs-based research that led her to establish Yenegat Chora. In 2017 she received the Samuel Huntington Public Service Fellowship, for which she was one of three finalists. These awards provided the funding and start-up costs for Yenegat Chora in 2017 and 2018, covering registration, licensing and fees, construction of the training center, staff salaries, weaving looms, materials, office equipment, and transportation to and from the training center for program participants.

To learn more about Yenegat Chora, our mission and training program please visit our website:   
You can also find us on Facebook @YenegatChoraa and Instagram @yenegatchora

“Women bear a heavier burden of the world’s poverty than men, because of the discrimination that they face in education, health care, employment and control of assets.”  - Johanna Sigurdardottir, former prime minister of Iceland

  • Shannon Keavy  
    • $65 
    • 28 mos
  • Josephine Gardner 
    • $5 
    • 28 mos
  • Cassandra Kircher 
    • $20 
    • 35 mos
  • Pamela Davison 
    • $25 
    • 48 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $150 
    • 49 mos
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Josephine Gardner 
Portland, ME
Josephine Gardner 

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