Nigest Haile – Founder and Executive Director of the Center for African Women Economic Empowerment (CAWEE)

Nigest is an activist in the promotion of women entrepreneurs, with particular focus to women exporters, both existing and potential/emerging exporters. She has 23 years experience working in the Ethiopian Ministry of Trade and Industry, at different capacities, where in the last 13 years of her position as Head of the Women’s Affairs Department in the Ministry, she was able to work on proposing policy ideas and recommendations for the creation of a conducive and women entrepreneurs friendly business environment.

In 2004, she founded the Center for African Women Economic Empowerment (CAWEE), the only NGO working in the country, providing capacity building support service targeting women exporters.

Nigest received her bachelor degree in Psychology (major) and Sociology (minor) from the Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia and her post graduate diploma in Globalization and Development, form the Institute of Social Studies (ISS), The Hague, The Netherlands. She also was able to get trained in women entrepreneurship development & other relevant areas of enterprise development and export promotion in different countries and has different diplomas and certificates.

In conducting different kinds of action oriented researches, focusing on women in business, Nigest is actively involved, and recently was able to publish a book compiling the findings of five different researches on challenges affecting women in business.

She received an award from the US Department of State in recognition of her extraordinary contributions to the development of women-led businesses. And Since 2005, she is serving as the ACCESS! Country Focal Person. ACCESS! for African business Women in International Trade, is a Regional program operating in 19 African counties, where the International Trade Center, Geneva is the executing agency.

In addition, Nigest is:

  • Member of the Soroptimist International, Addis Ababa Club,
  • Member of the Spanish-African Women Network,
  • Member of the COMESA (Common Market for Eastern & Southern Africa) Business Council,
  • Board member of FEMCOM (Federation of Women Entrepreneurs of COMESA),
  • AWEP (African Women Entrepreneurs Program) Ambassador to Ethiopia, an initiative of H. E. Hilary Clinton, that started in 2010,
  • Jury member for Sub-Saharan Africa, Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards,
  • Member of the Global Platform for Action on Sourcing from Women Vendors,
  • Member of the East African Women in Business Platform
  • One of the promoters and founders of the first commercial women’s bank of Ethiopia – “ENAT Bank” and currently board member of the bank.

Committed in the promotion of women entrepreneurs, Nigest is involved in facilitating the establishment of associations/clubs of women entrepreneurs and provide support so that their voices can be better heard.

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