My name is Teklehaymanot Gebremichael. I am 25 years old and am employed in Mekele Industrial Engineering (MIE). Here I am a metal worker. We work on the bodies of cars but privately I also do other metal work, like doors and windows etc.
Thinking back on my training with Alchemy World I really liked it and I can use it for different things in my life. In the training we shared many ideas with our Alchemy World teacher, Mussie. We presented ideas and heard thoughts and ideas from him and from other students. However, many of the ideas have the same problem: it is difficult to finance the start-up. But Mussie explained about this new thing called 20 by 80 – a system where the government allows you to take a loan of 80% if you can raise the first 20%.
The main important thing I have learned from Alchemy World is that I can work to change my own life. I can be the manager of my life. Another important thing I have learned is to study the shortage in the society – what is missing in the market, finding the problem and the solution and make a business out of it.
Another thing is that you will sometimes fail in your business. But you should not let that stop you. You should be encouraged enough to be able to continue. I have also learned the importance of saving up and having back-up money. Lets say you have 20.000 to make a business. You invest 10.000 and you keep the rest as a backup. It means you spend the 10.000 to learn but you should always have backup.
Together with 15 graduates from my group in Abi Adi College where I learned metal work, I am saving up for a business. It was by chance that we were all hired by MIE. And this inspired us to come up with the idea and to open our own business together. We will be equal partners and we will make it together. For none of us are planning to serve the company we are working for our entire life. We are motivated to start our own business and we are preparing to give it a good start.
For the startup we need about 150.000 birr. So we are currently collecting 50 birr per person per month. But for the coming year we are planning to increase this to 1000 birr per person per month for we need to be financially strong to begin. The government can offer heavy machinery and we are going to take all the support from the government that we can get and make it happen.
I am one of the founders of this business idea and I hope we can start the business in two years. If some of the members cannot raise the monthly amount, we will exclude them. When we finish collecting our money and if the business is not in high demand, we will shift. But first we collect the money.
For one of the things I learned from Alchemy World is to identify and understand the shortage in the market. We may focus on doing windows and doors, but most importantly we will make what our customer ask of us. We will also focus on getting better at vertical welding – for nobody in Mekele knows how to do this. But we know and this is one way we can differentiate the business and become more attractive.
I got the ideas for the business and my understanding of how to do it from my training with Alchemy World. I have also learned how important it is to save up, to keep the regular expenses at a minimum and how to improve my communication skills. The third important point that I have learned is to set a fair price for the product. It should be based both the costs of making the product and our salaries but it should certainly also take our customers into consideration so we can offer a fair price.
If I should say something to Alchemy World it is this: there should not be so much gap between the different workshops. For it is important to be able to finish what you start without interruption. And these workshops are very important to me and to the students.
But they are also important to many other young people. For we the Alchemy World students should become role models and help to promote Alchemy World and help others improve their businesses. And the best way to do this is by becoming successful in our own ways.