“How many of you are aware that volunteering teaches young people how to be entrepreneurs?” asked a young person standing in the middle of a plant nursery site and shop located on the new Wollo Sefer Road, an unlikely place for the eye to take a breather from the gleaming stretches of asphalt. That is Endale Tessema, born and raised in Addis Ababa, a volunteer turned an entrepreneur.
Endale holds a bachelor’s degree in business from Addis Ababa University. Like the majority of his recently graduated peers, Endale struggled to find employment in his field right out of college.
Despite having the guts to go into his own line of work, his business took some time to breakeven.
He always kept an eye out for volunteer positions, in spite of his struggles to keep a viable business running.
Every winter, he and his friends participate in and support numerous volunteer endeavors at the Abyot Ermeja public school, which is situated close to Meskel Flower. He would take the initiative to plant seedlings every summer in addition to offering his services.
Endale went to Gambella to work at a Saudi star company with the machinery skills he initially acquired and spent two years there after realizing that getting a job would be difficult with his qualifications.
After some time, he made the decision to return to Addis Ababa in order to launch his own company, particularly in the fields of printing, advertising, and seedlings. Shortly after his return, he turned the idea into a reality with the help of two friends and a small fund to purchase the necessary equipment.
The idea of planting seeds along highways inspired him to turn what he does into an opportunity. That meant combining promotion with seedlings, according to Endale.
He founded ARMA Printing Advertising, a company that provides various digital printing services, as well as Warka Landscape and Plant Shop, which offers landscaping and lawn care services.
Whether by accident or design, the government’s emphasis on the green economy and, in particular, seedling planting, aided Endale and his colleagues in supplying various seeds to government and non-government organizations. Not only that, but they also design, print, and supply various materials on t-shirts and equipment for various public and religious events.
They embraced projects from the Kirkos, Yeka, and Bole subcities, as well as the Addis Ababa River and the Green Development Bureau. Endale won the contract by submitting a meticulous project proposal that was descriptive and appealing, and he proposed it to various governmental and non-governmental organizations, reminding them to keep green plant seedlings in mind.
Endale creates a package that benefits the organizations, such as advertising tips and potential spots for planting seeds in roundabouts and along highway edges. The youth-led team has demonstrated their landscaping abilities for organizations such as Admas University, Selam Bus (transportation), Sky Bus (transportation), Panorama Hotel, Nazrawit Hotel, Kidane Mehret Dental Clinic, Ministry of Justice, water, and energy, and at central locations such as Pushkin Roundabout.
Endale believes planting a seedling will not enhance the city’s image; rather, the main activity is handling the plants every day. So he gives awareness-creation training, holds discussions with society, and even helps shoe shiners keep an eye on the plants in their surroundings.
Endale and his friends began exploring their untapped field by pushing various institutions to actively engage in planting seedlings and preparing sites for tree planting in response to society’s increasing awareness of and response to green legacy.
This time, Warka landscaping and plant shop supplied a variety of seeds to government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and embassies. Not only that, but the youths also design and print materials for various public and religious events.
Ethiopia’s Green Legacy Initiative (GLI) is rooted in a vision of creating a green and climate-resilient Ethiopia, according to the Office of the Prime Minister.
The initiative was launched in June 2019, with a four-year goal of planting 20 billion seedlings. By the fourth year, Ethiopia will have planted 25 billion seedlings by mobilizing more than 20 million citizens across the country. The establishment of more than 120,000 nurseries across the country also resulted in the creation of more than 767,000 jobs, the majority of which are held by women and youth.
Endale’s business validates the youth’s initiative to participate in city-wide campaigns and make an extra effort to see them through.