The Benevolent Leader
Kemer, a quiet yet resilient woman, was born and raised in Addis Ababa. The last born in a family of nine grew up in a household that valued communal living with extended family, which has been a guiding force in shaping the person she has become. The shared experiences within Kemer’s family have helped her charter carve a path that is less travelled by her siblings. As such, instead of taking the traditional path of marrying young—with the strong support of her sisters—Kemer pursued her higher education and earned her B.A. in Economics from Sidist Kilo Addis Ababa University. One of her most noteworthy accomplishments is that she is the first in her family to earn a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA). She graduated from the University of Rockhurst, Kansas City, Missouri.
Growing up, Kemer’s parents had instilled in her the value of education and knowing self-worth that encompassed independence at the heart. She took responsibility from a young age, nurturing her independence and traveling home from school on her own starting from Grade 3.
Kemer’s professional experience is focused on giving back, a life of service. She has worked in the NGO sector with John Hopkins, Tsehai Project. She then joined her family business in the export industry. This gave her more creative control and be able to make impactful decisions both for the business and community. She was not given preferential treatment; instead she had to work twice as hard as her male counterparts to earn her place in the family business. Rising up the ranks, Kemer joined the executive leadership, leading the business expansion diversifying into the manufacturing sector. Her siblings are her champions in this undertaking and accomplishment. In the process, she has also leveraged her MBA to formalize the family business to ensure business legacy for the younger generation.
Her life philosophy is that we are all born with a purpose and we all have something to offer, Kemer said. Our purpose in life is greater than us and it is to serve the world, to make it a better place. Kemer values accountability and responsibility, to hold oneself to a higher standard. One must be accountable for one’s actions, honor their word, and lead by example for the greater good of the community. Kemer embodies her values through her engagement in her community, proactively reaching out to the younger generation and helping them navigate their path both professionally and personally. She is particularly focused on young women who are most often expected to walk the pre-planned path for them without their involvement.
Kemer defines success as living a purposeful life that transcends beyond you. Success to her is intangible and realized at different stages of your life, making it more relative but more importantly led by the impact of your actions. Her actions come from an intentional place to better her community.
The most fulfilling role for Kemer has been to be a mother of three. Her experience thus far has encompassed many lessons learned, and her current path being part of AWiB’s leadership team has been an invaluable source of pride and privilege.
Looking back, Kemer’s source of character and strength is shaped by the strong support system from her immediate family throughout her life. She drew her work ethic, discipline and patience from her father whilst garnering the desire to give back and live a life of service from her mother—a strong and courageous person she looks up to. Having had limited role models and with her sisters being married at early ages, Kemer strongly believes that role models outside of your immediate circle are critical in defining and inspiring your path.
Knowing first-hand how the lack of mentors affects one’s capacity to overcome great obstacles and achieve goals, Kemer actively works on availing herself to young people, giving advice and guiding them to success. AWiB is also another platform she uses to give back and empower women.
Kemer is grateful and considers herself lucky to be raised in Ethiopia. It has given her great context in life. Seeing the vast economic disparity in our society has allowed her to be empathetic to people’s circumstances whilst creating gratitude for what she has, her family, health and fortune that Allah has bestowed onto her.
Kemer enjoys spending quality time with family, exercising and doing self-care routines that soothe her soul. She is also an avid dancer, a form of family activity on weekends.
Leadership is about people and capacitating people to become their best. It is also being able to see the big picture and not be consumed by the small things.
Her greatest takeaway from her life experience thus far has been that we should not be afraid to fail and we should be able to negotiate our space. Particularly, young women need to be able to negotiate their spaces and lean-in; they should not wait to be given the space but rather take it.
AWiB is that platform that helps you seize opportunities that come in your path by providing you with the tools needed to unleash your potential. It is a hidden treasure that has transformed many lives and appeals to people with different backgrounds as well as those in different stages in their lives. AWiB is a systematic, hands-on experience, and pushes you outside of your comfort zone to nurture and evolve a better version of you. It is a space like no other, created for you and by you—the women of Ethiopia!
The year 2021 is one to make a systematic and purposeful change, especially in hindsight of our 2020. Kemer is ready to lead with a purpose and vision that places people and service at heart. We look forward to your success in leading AWiB in to the new horizon, the start of a new decade!