Tseday Asrat: La Dame Formidable!
Millions recognize the brand she built. With 33 branches and still growing, Kaldis Coffee has become a household name that fills the days of many people with aroma. But very few know the woman behind Kaldis Coffee. Tseday Asrat is the founder and managing director of Kaldis Coffee. She also owns Lori Agro-Industry and Gusto Restaurants, a chain of Italian restaurants. She co-owns Gursha Restaurant in Dubai.
Born and raised in Addis Ababa, Tseday has always been following her passion. She always wanted to own and run her own business. When she didn’t get enough point at the national matriculation exam to enter university, she started modeling. Her family insisted she took the exam again to pursue her education but Tseday knew that is not the road she wanted to take.
The fact that she was in the fashion industry helped her closely follow up the trend. Combining her passion for business and fashion, Tsedey opened up her 1st boutique, “Seasonal Style”, at the age of 23. Because she used to import trendy yet classy wears, “Seasonal Style” became popular. Even though people close to her advised her against it, Tseday opened up a branch shop after 6 months. “Looking back, I think I always wanted to open up branches of my business and expand”; she adds humor to her undertakings.
The idea of Kaldis Coffee came after she had to close down both shops after two years of successful business because of city development and expansion. While Tseday was pregnant with their 2nd child, her husband, Captain Elias, suggested to change her boutique business into coffee business and to start with opening cafés. Thirteen years later, Kaldis has 33 shops, and finalizing to add 5 more.
As a managing director and multi-business owner, Tseday’s days are filled with going through reports to help her plan and strategize, studying about the sectors she’s in, making decisions as well as trainings. She strongly believes in constant training and mentorship. She trains the supervisors in her businesses who in return train their team. On the trainings she conducts, Tseday focuses on perception and leadership. She challenges her team to see the reasons behind their actions and decisions. Kaldis now has a training center through which every employee has to go. Tseday’s philosophy in her businesses is employment, training and promotion. Most of the managers and supervisors at Kaldis today have started as waiters and cashiers.
Due to a close family member who was diagnosed with cancer, Tseday started supporting the Ethiopian Cancer Association. Tseday also is actively involved with the parents group of the type 2 diabetes, which is under the Ethiopian Diabetic Association. They organize activities including the annual walk to create awareness about type 2 diabetes which mostly attacks children. This is Tseday’s personal engagement.
In the past four years, Kaldis Coffee for every new branch selects one outstanding student from grade 8 from underprivileged family, and provides a private school education covering tuition and all other expenses. Kaldis plans to start Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) department that expands support to the community. Tseday just signed an agreement to provide milk for charity organizations who raise children. She has also finalized the implementation of income generating scheme for women farmers who supply milk to Lori. In this scheme, the women will get a loan to buy chickens to help them with poultry farm that supplies to Lori. Lori also supports these women with feed & training. The scheme helps these farmers to make 4,000 Birr per month.
Tseday’s most important accomplishment so far is changing the coffee culture in Addis Ababa. By doing so, she also impacted the service industry. She also pioneered opening up branch coffee shops.
When she is not working, Tseday enjoys reading and spending quality time with her family. She takes 3 to 4 weeks of holiday breaks per year to travel with her 4 children and her husband. When asked how she managed to stay away from her business that long, Tseday answers “I mentor, delegate, give freedom and responsibility. If they make mistakes that is because they are working and I will fix it when I come back.”
The most important lesson Tseday learned in life is to always ask why we are doing what we are doing and analyze our decisions. And the most critical elements to be successful in life are commitment and discipline she says. “Having purpose in life and passion for what we do help us going through tough times so always examine the reasons behind your decisions” Tseday asserts. She believes, if success was easy, the road to it would have been too crowded. Tseday highly recommends the book “Today Matters” by John Maxwell.
Tseday is a person of high discipline. She wakes up at 5AM and her work day is over by 5PM. Before 5PM, she is a business woman and after 5PM, she is a mother and a wife. She plans her week on Mondays and evaluates her weekly execution on Saturdays. If her husband is in town, they always have lunch together. She goes to the gym 3 times a week. She cooks on Tuesdays.
Tseday is grateful for her life. “The fact that I wake up in a new day makes me thankful, helps me have a positive outlook, leaves no room for complains.” Tseday attributes this attitude for starting various ventures. She noticed there is shortage in the human resource market for trained professionals in the service sector, so she opened the training center. She was not satisfied with the quality of coffee supplied to Kaldis, so she started coffee roasting and packaging. Dairy supply was not consistent, so she established Lori Agro Industry. And the list goes on…
“Each new day brings new opportunities to improve myself. So I take each day to make the best of it. That’s why I’m thankful” says Tseday and that is her message for the younger generation.
AWiB deeply thanks Tseday’s time and willingness for this interview. As AWiB member, she contributes her fair share to AWiB’s objective—to develop strong female leaders in Ethiopia.
The AWiB Team!
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