Cheesemaking in Ethiopia

Our cheesemaking project focuses on the interconnection of business, community, and agriculture. We strive to develop a business that enriches communities, both economically and socially.

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We’re a team from Ethiopia, Germany, New Zealand and the United States who met by serendipity in the highlands of Ethiopia. Now, we are working to launch a cheesemaking business by expanding a dairy processing company near Ethiopia’s Blue Nile River. 

In the space of five years (beginning in January 2021), we plan to set up a financially independent and profitable business which will begin to create employment, add value to farmers’ products, and ultimately fund sustainable economic development in Ethiopia. We know what you’re thinking. Where does this idea come from, and who are we to embark on such an ambitious project? 


1.       The team

Abiy and Valerie are the dynamic owners of Mulu Ecolodge  and have spent years working with their local community on social and economic development projects. They bring sharp insight into setting up a successful social enterprise in Ethiopia; helping us to navigate the complexities of Ethiopia’s cultural landscape.

48564400_1592447905771616_r.jpegAbiy’s brother Getnet is a businessman near Lake Tana, the source of the Blue Nile. Returning from the U.S. ten years ago, by sheer force of will he built up an extensive dairy and food processing company. We will be working closely with Getnet and his team to build Agere cheese, utilising some of his existing resources and business connections across Ethiopia.

48564400_1592448258712612_r.jpegJackie is a cheesehead from birth in America’s Midwest AKA “the dairy capital of the world.” Jackie trained as a journalist, later working in community development as a Peace Corps volunteer in Morocco. Jackie will be managing daily operations at Agere, with Jackie’s strengths lying in communications and management. Jackie’s varied skills also extend to cheese, where she is currently working with artisan cheese makers in Minnesota.

48564400_1592448278822473_r.jpegLiam is a freewheeling food-enthusiast who has spent the vast majority of his life cooking and learning about food. It was this curiosity that got him making cheese from the age of twelve, and later, on farms in the alps of Italy. Strong in technical knowledge, Liam also bring a creative flair to the project, looking to combine western cheese-styles with local ingredients, such as honey wine.

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2.       Our goals.

The logic of the project is simple: in Ethiopia there is a lot of demand for high quality cheese, but no local producers to meet the demand. We aim to fill this gap in the market, introducing ideas and skills not considered before in the Ethiopian dairy industry. However, we do not aim to merely enrich ourselves from the project. Our ultimate aims are twofold. For one, we hope to develop a business that enriches the community, both economically and socially. One that provides good income for farmers, uses improved techniques to increase farm productivity, but most importantly; we act as a partner in development. An agent that listens to the community and their needs, and works to meet their needs, with their help. The other goal is to use our profits to fund development across Ethiopia. There are many young, energetic and talented people in Ethiopia, but they often don’t have the means to go out into the world and change things. We aim to make that a little easier, by providing microfinance services to fund entrepreneurship in Ethiopia. We believe that it is of the utmost importance that economic development is done by and for Ethiopians, so that is where our focus lies.   

3.       How you can help.

To do all these things we need to create a profitable business. So, our initial focus is on setting up a factory, creating a great product, and selling it. And to set up the factory, we need capital. We’ve spent many months planning and designing our factory, evaluating all the risks and minimising costs where we can. Now, we’re at a stage where we know what capital we need, and how much it will cost. To be blunt, we need $23,000 USD to set up the factory. However, as young people, we have the knowledge, ideas and energy, but not the money. This is one, but not the only way you can help

If you have the means of contributing financially and would like to know where exactly your money is going, we’ll send along our detailed budget. We’re happy to share more information about the project too. Just send us your questions and thoughts to [email redacted] and we’ll connect further.

Thank you for any support you're able to extend. We’ll post monthly updates here on our GoFundMe page to keep you in the loop of how your donations are being put to use. 

Thank you again (and again and again),
Getnet, Abiy, Valerie, Liam, and Jackie

Donations

  • Mitch Harkness 
    • $50 
    • 1 mo
  • Chelsea Turner 
    • $20 
    • 1 mo
  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 1 mo
  • Kaye Gardyne 
    • $200 
    • 1 mo

Organizer

Agere Cheese 
Organizer
Rochester, MN
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