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“To teach entrepreneurship, you have to walk the talk”

“To teach entrepreneurship, you have to walk the talk”

Publicado el: 05 - diciembre - 2017

Hanneke Bouta Vermeulen recounts a recent walk and talk, at Holeta ATVET college, Ethiopia…

It’s November 2017. The same road, same rain-filled potholes, and same curious children, on the way to Holeta Agricultural Technical and Vocational Training college. I am here again, this time to assess if we have achieved what we promised we would, and to write the final report. But it was only a few months ago that I walked the same road to the closing workshop, when farmers spoke of their increased incomes, and graduates told how their studies made them more competitive when looking for work. And a tracer study confirms Holeta graduates quickly find jobs.

I start my visit in the Dean’s office before he leaves to visit Ambo University to discuss arrangements, as they are interested in running MSc courses on Holeta TVET college campus, to build on the new BSc course in agriculture and agro-processing they have just started in collaboration with Federal TVET Institute. And what a rapid change, as Debela Bersisa, Dean of Holeta ATVET College notes: “We used to think that nobody would care about a college like ours but now we know that our work matters. And this has given us the confidence to become involved in many more initiatives now!

The Agribizz project, coordinated by ICRA, supported Holeta ATVET college to become a centre of excellence
in delivering high quality, gender-sensitive and demand-driven education, training and applied research in the field of commercial agriculture.

IMG_20171123_092108_001.jpg          IMG_20171123_165134_001.jpg           

On my way to Holeta ATVET college                    Markos      

We have realized that to teach entrepreneurship, you have to practice what you preach.”
The numbers confirm what I hear, that the college is increasingly popular and is doing well. The 5-year average of the graduate pass-rate for the competency assessment is 89%. The national target is 67%. And the number of students has gone up too, from 944 to 1520 now enrolled. The percentage of female students grew from 45% 5 years ago to 53%.

But it is not only about figures. “My view on gender has completely changed!” says Markos, a business instructor and the college’s gender focal person. “Before in our family it was all about me and my career. Now my wife has completed 4th level in our college and is pursuing a degree. This is a great example for my children and my students”.

In the office of the Dr Merga, the outreach Vice Dean, I meet Mr Sisay. “After graduation, I got a government post but was not satisfied. I now have a farm and advise other farmers and would like to work with the college as it has access to great innovations and tests them.” But before the project, the college had only limited outreach services. Now it provides demand-driven practical advice to more than 200 farms and small enterprises. “After we hear their problems, we consult our colleagues and look for solutions” explains Merga.
“That is why entrepreneurs like Mr Sisay come to our office! Advising so many farmers would have never been possible without the laptops, motorcycles and the car that the project provided us.”


On  my return from Holetta to Addis Ababa, an instructor Mr Seketa shows me pictures on his mobile phone of farmer focus group discussions on nutrition issues. “I won this project. At a workshop organised by a local NGO, I heard about an opportunity to submit a proposal. So I did so, was selected, and have received 60,000 Birr [€1500] to implement my project! There will be a new phase and I will go for it too”.

I smile. After five years, the same potholes and curious children, but a completely different dynamism on the Holeta college campus. Again, as a project coordinator, I am confronted with my own limitation in ‘activity thinking’, but this short last visit has reminded me that what we look for is change, and what I see here is a completely changed college that does practise entrepreneurship as they teach it…

For more information about Holeta ATVET College please contact the College’s Dean:

Debela Bersisa
Dean, Holeta ATVET College
E-mail: debela2008@yahoo.com
Mobile: +251 911776227
Office: +251 112370030
Skype: debela.bersisa
Holeta, Ethiopia

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