RENEW Strategies

A Woman's Perspective of an Ethiopian Garment Factory

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Lulit Negash
| June 28, 2016

In the latest installment in our Q&A series with the employees of RENEW’s portfolio companies, I had the pleasure to speak with one of the supervisors at Desta PLC, the Impact Angel Network's most recent investment.

Desta aims to positively impact the burgeoning textile sector in Ethiopia. The company is committed to the fair treatment of its employees and adherence to guiding principles of sustainability, setting it apart from the trajectory this industry has taken in many other low and middle-income countries. In fact, Desta recently became BSCI Certified, adopting the "labor standards of the International Labour Organization and other important international regulations." By doing so, Desta and other BSCI Certified companies will improve the social performance of suppliers, ultimately creating better working conditions in textile and garment factories across the globe.

Bethelehm Amare, who has lived in Addis Ababa all her life, spoke to me about her experiences at Desta, as well as the opportunities the company offers to its employees.

How did you hear about Desta?
I was working at another garment factory when I heard about an opening at Desta. I was very interested in joining because Desta is an exporting company and the quality of work is remarkable. I started working at Desta three years ago.

How did you become one of Desta’s sew line supervisor?
I joined Desta as a sewing operator, I was then promoted to the sample room to work on samples for clients, which led me to the position I now have as supervisor of one of the sewing lines.

What education or training have you received to date?
I did not complete high school, I only went through 10th grade, but I received multiple trainings through my former employer and at Desta in relation to sewing and general quality controls.

What is your position title at Desta, and what are your responsibilities?
I am a line supervisor to one of the sewing lines at the Desta textile manufacturing facility. My responsibilities are managing my subordinates, both on the business and overseeing their work, in regards to the quality of their work and reporting back to the plant manager. I also control the targets on the line I am managing.

What makes Desta unique from its competitors?
I worked at another textile company, which was also engaged in a similar type of business but just for the local market. Desta is an exporting company, with a much higher quality and standard of products compared to the past company I worked at. I also received multiple trainings from experts in the field, which are mainly expats. So, in my opinion, in comparison to other textile companies this is what makes Desta unique – it’s an export focused business with better quality products, and it is a much better place to work with its continuous training opportunities for employees.

What kind of leadership opportunities has Desta created for you and the other workers in your sewing line?
If you are a good performer and you are seeing progress in your current position, the management will pay close attention to each worker and will promote him or her. The company also gives trainings to employees.

How has working for Desta changed your life for the better?
It has improved my way of living with regards to finance - i.e. the salary I receive now is much better compared to what I used to earn when I was a sewing operator.

Has your job at Desta made you feel empowered as an individual?
I can say that working at Desta at the position that I currently hold has empowered me to be the best I can be. It has boosted my confidence and I have learned how to manage employees and have implemented that in my personal life as well. I enjoy managing people, the relationships I have with my juniors is the best part of my job. My salary has also improved from what I used to earn before.

What hopes do you have for the future?
In the next five years, I see myself improving my technical skills and management skills, and overall growing professionally. In the future, I would like to start my own business, because I will be able to say that I have management skills and knowledge. My position at Desta has inspired me to be a better leader, knowing that if I perform well then I will be rewarded for my efforts.


Be sure to check out the other blogs in our Q&A series with the employees of the RENEW and the IAN's portfolio companies - dVentus Technologies: Creating a Brighter Future for Ethiopia, METAD PLC: A Force of Innovation in Ethiopia's Coffee Industry, Mama Fresh: Baking Injera and Creating Impact in Ethiopia, Innovation in the Healthcare Industry, One Ambulance Ride at a Time and Ethiopia and the Entrepreneurial Dream.


To find out more about RENEW or the Impact Angel Network, contact us at renew@renewstrategies.com, follow us on Twitter @RENEWLLC or find us on Instagram @impactangelnetwork.