Maheder Adimassu: Stirring Passion into a Processing & Packing Enterprise

Born and raised in Dessie, Maheder Adimassu is the only girl among her siblings.  Her father played a great role in building her confidence at a young age as he always encouraged her to pursue the things she believed in.  He never told her, “No,” and allowed her to see things through.  She first started going to school at W/O Sehin School in Dessie then proceeded to get her first degree in marketing management and a Masters in project management in Addis Ababa.  Maheder came from a family with a business background, so she ventured into business.

Extremely passionate about food, cooking and anything related to agriculture, Maheder identified a gap in the market and believed she could fill it by providing quality packed foods.  She is a pioneer in the packed ወጥ “wot” (stew or sauce) industry and has opened doors for many to join the market in that area.  There was a bit of a struggle in the first few years of her business because Ethiopian society isn’t very accepting of new ventures, yet Maheder persevered through the hardships.  The experience helped her build a can-do and tenacious attitude.

Maheder Food Processing and Packing enterprise was established nine years ago.  It specializing in processed and packed Ethiopian traditional stews and sauces such as onion sauce, chili sauce, ዶሮ : ወጥ “Doro wot” (a very popular Ethiopian holiday dish made with poultry meat), and different fasting stews.  The company provides bread in different sizes and flavors as well as potato chips.  In addition, the team produces various powdered spices.  According to https://mahederfoods.com/about/, the company owns two shopping and tasting centers and a dairy farm.  The centers are undergoing change, Maheder said.The company has recently expanded business to providing catering services for weddings, government offices, cafeterias, and more.  Maheder plans on upscaling her production in the near future.

The aim of Maheder Food Processing and Packing is to provide healthy, packed ወጥ “wot” with great quality, making life easier for people who are busy with work and can’t find the time to make meals from scratch.  While in college, Maheder would always buy እንጀራ “injera” (Ethiopian flat bread often accompanied by traditional stew) but didn’t have any ወጥ “wot” to eat it with so she decided to be the solution, creating a completely new and specialized industry.

On a daily basis, Maheder manages her company and employees, networks and cultivates agreements to better her enterprise.  In addition to being a successful entrepreneur, Maheder has served on the board of several associations such as the አዲስ ፡ አበባ ፡ ነጋዴ ፡ ሴቶች “Addis Abeba Negadé Setoch,” the African Agricultural Academy (AAA), and the Ethiopian Spice Processor Association.  Maheder believes everyone should get a good meal every day, so she feeds the homeless every month to give back to her community.

Maheder takes pride in how far her company has come and considers it to be her biggest achievement.  The business has come a long way—from struggling to gaining acceptance from the community in the beginning, to becoming widely well-received.  She is happy to see the industry grow and hopes to see a lot more people engaged in the coming 10 years.

In her free time, Maheder primarily enjoys playing with her kids and spending quality time with her family.  She dives into reading books—especially those that are business-related.  She strongly believes in exuding positivity towards other people and the world in general and in turn positive experiences come our way.  Positivity can bring about the change that is needed in the world is her motto in life.

Maheder was raised in a very nurturing community which felt like a large family.  She surrounds herself with supportive and positive people, be it family or friends, and thanks God every day for an encouraging community.  Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is something Maheder struggles with and often finds herself consumed by work; she doesn’t have time to keep up with other aspects of her life.  In addition, bureaucracy is a great hardship in trying to carry out the day-to-day activities in running a business.

Maheder’s advice to the youth is to be fully committed, passionate and dedicated to whatever you want to do in life.  Identifying your goals and having a clear vision of what you want to do is very important.  Once we have a clear vision of our goals, commitment, passion, and a can-do attitude we should put all our effort into our focus tirelessly until we get to where we want to be.  If we are dedicated and putting in maximum effort, nothing is impossible or out of reach.

In our professional lives, we need to be true to our work regardless of others holding us accountable or not.  We must hold ourselves accountable and do our jobs responsibly and honestly.  Maheder implores our leaders to be like-minded and serve the community suitably and efficiently.  As one might expect, Maheder has faced many difficulties as a woman entrepreneur in a man’s world, but she sees it as an opportunity to grow and come out stronger rather than an obstacle.  Moving forward, Maheder plans on expanding and upscaling her business while continuing to run it with honesty and integrity.

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