Compassion in Action
Bezuwork Mamo Woldehanna (BMW)
Bezuwork Mamo, the 4th child in the family, was born in April 1962 in Adadi Mariam, a historic place in the Shewa region. Bezuwork is very close to her parents and siblings. She describes her large family as very loving and compassionate. Her family shows these values by supporting each other in times of hardship and checking on each other’s well-being.
Bezuwork earned her B.A majoring in accounting with a minor in management from Addis Ababa University in 1984. She describes being an accountant as a profession which requires an understanding of knowledge of different intellectual disciplines like management, economics, & law.
After graduating, Bezuwork joined the professional world & her first entry was at the Ethiopian Tourism Commission as a Junior Finance Analyst. She served Ethiopian Tourism Commission for 5 years, then got a scholarship opportunity for a master’s in Accounting and Finance specializing in Corporate Business and Investment at Maastricht School of Management, Netherlands.
Soon after, equipped with a master’s degree, Bezuwork came back to her motherland & joined the International NGO world. The first project she worked on was a UNDP-funded tourism project, where she served as a counterpart in the devising of the 5-year tourism transformational plan of Ethiopia. The hands-on experience in the UNDP-funded tourism project armed Bezuwork with the confidence and competence to advance her career. Working with people from diversified cultural backgrounds gave her a unique perspective; integrating that with her compassionate character and her professional practice, she was able to bring about major positive changes in the organizations she worked with.
FARM Africa, a UK-based INGO, working on multiple participatory and inclusive programs, rural needy farmers’ capacity building, and financial support for farmers, was the next organization she joined. Coming from a family of farmers, it was easy for Bezuwork to empathize and connect with the farmers they worked with. She traveled to the rural areas to connect with the communities and always made sure the programs actually deliver sustainable solutions to farmers.
After accumulating years of experience combined with her vast network & openness to share her knowledge with peers and subordinates, she believed the best choice was to establish her own consultancy firm. However, things didn’t go as planned as she was offered an opportunity to consult Save the Children Denmark. She took the opportunity and soon came to love the job for the comforting environment and stability it offered her. That was when she turned her employment to a full-time basis and closed her consultancy firm.
Joining Save the Children Denmark in 2006, Bezuwork found how developmental organizations should impact communities which is through enabling local NGOs through capacity building, creating and implementing sustainable development plans. In her 6th year of serving Save the Children Denmark as the Finance & Admin Director, Bezuwork witnessed a major restructuring of a large organization. The seven different Save the Children Organizations, Save the Children Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, UK & USA, decided to merge & become Save the Children International. With this restructuring came downsizing and fierce competition for fewer positions.
However, this fierce competition didn’t deter Bezuwork from applying for the Finance Director position. She wasn’t able to get the position due to a lack of experience handling large budgets but she got the Deputy position. As a deputy, she was the one primarily responsible for handling the merging of these seven organizations financially, from treasury to grant management to auditing and accounting. “It was overwhelming & challenging, but I had no doubt that I could do it,” says Bezuwork with a triumphant smile on her face. She claims this to be the biggest accomplishment in her professional life so far.
After her journey with Save the Children International, Bezuwork moved on and reestablished her financial consultancy, BMW Authorized Firm for Financial Service. She claims the most important part of finance is being able to tell stories from numbers and analyze the health status of organizations.
Bezuwork underlines that creating a harmonious ambiance in the workplace by maintaining mutual respect and encouraging open communication is crucial for the growth of any entity. Throughout her professional journey, Bezuwork accumulated a large network that she still keeps in touch with.
Bezuwork’s life principles are based on integrity and compassion. As a leader, she believes in imprinting positive mindsets on the youth. She is generous & enjoys sharing her knowledge, skills, and resources with the youth, as she puts it in an Amharic proverb “የጋን ውስጥ መብራት አለመሆን”. Bezuwork has a positive outlook on life; she gives others the benefit of the doubt. She encourages examining every side of a situation before making a decision avoiding rushed conclusions.
Bezuwork is among the founding members & current board chairperson of the Sustainable Natural Resource Management Association (SUNARMA), a local NGO seeking sustainable solutions to the challenges of rural Ethiopia. SUNARMA is known for its successful method of “Participatory Forest Management” working within the local community.
She also served as the Deputy Director of SOS Sahel Ethiopia AGM, a formerly UK INGO that later became local, mainly focusing on similar forest conservation methods and improved production training for the community in the Bale mountains. Bezuwork sat on the Board of Directors at Zemen Bank SC for two consecutive terms and worked in different subcommittees. With her friends, Bezuwork supports New Life Rehab Center financially.
Bezuwork currently resides in Addis Ababa with her life partner. Even though she doesn’t have any biological children, she raised many children, educating, guiding, counseling & developing them into being good citizens.
Bezuwork genuinely believes in the value of inclusive systems for the development of a nation. She advises women to be ambitious, knowledgeable, independent thinkers, generous & walk through life knowing that they can do anything they put their hearts and minds to.
AWiB thanks Bezuwork, a long-time committed AWiBer, for sharing her inspiring story.
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