February 2023: Ethiopia / Lalibela: From the street to a high respected small business

From the street to a high respected small business in Lalibela

PBF is a non-profit foundation that supports people with disabilities, the elderly, the sick, students with financial problems, the homeless and other needy people in the sense of helping them to help themselves.

Habtu Agazzu, 22, is a talented young man from a very poor family. He lost his father when he was just 12 years old and lives with his mother, who used to collect firewood in the forest until she became old and sick. Habtu finished high school but could not attend college because he lacked the means.

Then, like many others his age, he earned a living on the street by doing small services like washing cars or shining shoes to support his mother. Later, he approached PBF and asked for help to develop his talents in decorating vehicles. It soon became apparent that there was a great demand for this. Habtu envisioned a modest small business. Since there were a very large number of tuk tuks locally and elsewhere, it was a wise decision to work in the field of tuk tuk decoration, i.e. decoration with glue. Already a few years ago, PBF supported him in buying some necessary tools and materials. Habtu had his place of work right on the street, moving from one street corner to another, going with bag and baggage wherever he was called and his services were needed. Highly motivated and with great interest, he gained a large clientele and earned a modest, but by his standards respectable income, which he used as a matter of course for his frail mother and himself.

The demand for his work expanded beyond decorating tuk tuks.  Habtu was able to take on additional tasks along the same lines. From working on the streets, he moved to a permanent small stall in a container, storing his material for decorations, also selling small material for the maintenance or repair of tuk tuks.  Now he is even able to hire an additional young man who shares his interests. Now Habtu also makes signs, information boards and advertising posters for hotels, schools or the local government.  Everywhere he puts his trademark: “PBF Decor”.

Habtu receives a lot of recognition and support from the authorities and individual customers. What started with the simplest of means on the roadside of Lalibela has been proving to be a promising enterprise for some time now.  Habtu’s vision led to success despite very strong difficulties.

PBF heartily congratulates Habtu and is very proud of him!