“How many of you know that volunteering teaches young people to become entrepreneurs? asked a youngster standing in the middle of a nursery site and shop on the new Wollo Sefer Road, an unlikely place for the eye to take a break from the gleaming expanses of asphalt. This is Endale Tessema, born and raised in Addis Ababa, a volunteer turned entrepreneur.
Endale holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Addis Ababa University. Like the majority of his recently graduated peers, Endale struggled to find employment in his field straight out of college.
Although he was brave enough to take on his own work, his business was slow to break even.
He has always kept an eye on volunteer positions, despite his efforts to maintain a viable business.
Every winter, he and his friends participate in and support many volunteer activities at the Abyot Ermeja Public School, located near Meskel Flower. He would take the initiative to plant seedlings each summer in addition to offering his services.
Endale went to Gambella to work in a Saudi star company with the machinery skills he had initially acquired and spent two years there after realizing it would be difficult to get a job with his qualifications.
After some time, he made the decision to return to Addis Ababa in order to start his own business, particularly in the fields of printing, advertising and seedlings. Shortly after his return, he made the idea a reality with the help of two friends and a small fund to buy 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 seeding, 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, the planting of seedlings, has helped Endale and his colleagues provide various seeds to governmental and non-governmental organizations. Not only that, but they also design, print and supply various materials on t-shirts and gear for various public and religious events.
They adopted projects from the sub-cities of Kirkos, Yeka and Bole, as well as the Addis Ababa River and the Green Development Office. Endale won the contract by submitting a meticulous, descriptive and attractive project proposal, and he offered it to various governmental and non-governmental organizations, reminding them to keep green plant seedlings in mind.
Endale creates a package that benefits organizations, such as advertising tips and potential locations to plant seeds at roundabouts and along highways. 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 the Pushkin roundabout.
Endale thinks planting a seedling won’t improve the town’s image; the main activity is rather to handle the plants every day. He then provides awareness training, dialogue with society, and even helps shoe shiners to monitor the plants around them.
Endale and his friends began to explore their untapped domain by pushing various institutions to actively engage in planting seedlings and preparing sites for planting trees in response to society’s growing awareness and its response to the green legacy.
This time, Warka Landscaper and Plant Shop provided a variety of seeds to government agencies, non-governmental organizations and embassies. Not only that, but the young people also design and print materials for various public and religious events.
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, Ethiopia’s Green Legacy Initiative (GLI) is rooted in a vision of creating a green and climate-resilient Ethiopia.
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 creation of more than 120,000 nurseries across the country has also resulted in the creation of more than 767,000 jobs, the majority of which are filled by women and young people.
Endale’s business validates the initiative of young people to participate in city-wide campaigns and go the extra mile to carry them out.