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Expanding the Dream

By Siobhan Hoffman    About Seeds of Africa

On September 27th, Atti Worku was interviewed by ABC7NY about her mission to create world class schools and community centers in African communities. In the Here and Now interview Atti shares her dreams for Seeds of Africa, and why and how she created this organization. Growing up in Ethiopia, Atti saw the difference between where she went to school which was private vs. the underfunded schools where friends in her neighborhood were attending. She knew this difference was unfair, and for this reason she created Seeds of Africa Foundation. The reason for her work is to help Ethiopians rise above poverty which is the main issue in Ethiopia. After her long and hard journey Atti has raised over 1 million dollars for her school, and her school is growing so much that her next goal is to create The Dream School that can hold many more students. This way she does not have to turn away anyone. Here at Voice Ethiopia we truly believe in the work that Atti is doing, and we wanted to dig even deeper into her organization. For this reason we did a follow up interview with Atti, which is posted below.

Interview Link: http://abc7ny.com/1002313/

1. What kind of jobs does your Community Development program create for the mothers or female caretakers of your students?

a-“The end goal is to have our mothers or female caretakers create their own business. We help to put together a business plan, and help with their financial needs by providing funding for them to launch their business. Some examples of businesses that our caretakers or mothers of our students create are prenatal food Delivery Companies, small cafés, retail businesses (sells house supplies), cell phone charging stands, and iron welding businesses. So far we are only working with the female guardians of our students, but soon we would like to include the male guardian figures as well.”

2. How do these women apply for micro-loans and how much are they getting?

a- “When a child enrolls into the school they are automatically put into our community development program. Loans are for female caretakers of our students who want to learn how to read and write. Our mothers and female guardians get together in Ethiopian coffee ceremony, and discuss their issues, and we help with the solution. We really want them to come up with their own solutions. Once they come up with an idea they take an entrepreneurship course and then build their business plan. Loans usually take about a year for them to get. 80% of mothers/female guardians get loans. The average is about $200, but this varies. The smallest amount $150, highest is $600.”

3. What percent of women would you say have small businesses before enrolling their children in Seeds of Africa?

a-“Right now 45 business have started. Out of those 11 have already existed.”

4. How many community service providers are there? How many families do you meet with?

a-“We meet with about 118 families, and have 4 community service providers, and a director of program. A nurse meets with female guardians for counseling services as well.”

5. How would you describe the Dream School? In your interview you said it was an “educational academy that competes with international standards”, what exactly do you mean by this?

a- “What I envision for the Dream to School is when you walk in you will not know where in the world you are. I think the environment for the students should be inspiring this does a lot for their confidence. I want our students to see that success like this is attainable in Ethiopia. I want our Dream School to represent equality.”

6. In your interview you spoke about expanding your community outreach program to not just parents of the students in your school, but the whole community who does this include?

a- “We want to expand the community outreach program to other women in the community not just parents of our students. We want the loan program to be available to more families, not just the families of our students. The Seeds loan program is extremely successful right now. We want to include young people as well who went to college, and want to start a business but need a loan to do so.”

7. Is there anything we can do to help you raise money for the New Yorkers for Seeds event?

a- “We need all the help we can get in selling our tickets. Also, to spread the word about our sponsorship program.”

8. Lastly, you spoke about expanding your educational system to include the local government. How exactly are you going to go about this?

a- “I want our school to grow larger. The model that we have works. There are so many schools that just don’t have the right resources. We are planning on either working with the government or NGOS.”


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