“Educating women means to educate the society. We have to create awareness for empowering women in this men dominated society and jointly work to make PROJECT-E the best Hospitality Institute in Addis Ababa”
Today we would like to present to you Bekalu Azene who has been the Academic Coordinator at the PROJECT-E Hospitality Institute (PEHI) since the end of 2018. We got to know Bekalu as an extremely engaged and genuinely motivated man for women empowerment through education who is always open for deep and interesting discussions on a wide range of academic topics.
Bekalu was a selected scholar of the UNDP academic cooperation programme between Ethiopia and India, whereby he graduated with a double master’s degree in Business Administration. Over the years, he gained profound experiences working as a scholar, lecturer and manager in the areas of Business, Administration, Banking and Finance at different governmental colleges and universities. Lately, he shifted his profession from academic work to project officer tasks – engaged as the project coordinator of a migration management programme at a Dutch NGO before joining PE. His core activity at the PEHI lies in the monitoring and coaching of the trainers and adjustment of the curriculum as well as preparation of the materials required by the national Technical Vocational Education (TVET) Programme. Furthermore, Bekalu is responsible for conducting labour market analysis and outreach to stakeholders of the private and public sector in order to build up the linkages between training and labour market.
As a lover of literature, Bekalu spends his free time reading and educating himself further in the academic profession. Especially passionate is he about the Ethiopian history and ancient culture which helps him to prepare for his side job as a guide in Addis. But the city guide job is just one example of many of his side activities: Bekalu is also employed as a teacher, advisor and coach at different colleges and companies whereat he focuses his work mainly on the empowerment of women in entrepreneurship. Even before joining the team, Bekalu was following the activities of PE and was always excited about “the impressive work of PE on education that is designed for success and its fruitful outcomes that bring radical changes on the lives of the beneficiaries”. Strongly motivated by the objective to empower women through education and the successful outcomes of PE, he joined the project although it reduced his salary.
“Growing up in a men dominated society”, Bekalu explains, “I experienced gender-based violence as well as a high inequality and realised its negative side effect for the general social and economic development of the country. The key to minimise such kind of problems is to empower women while bringing them education and entrepreneurship because in order to break out of the dependency and suppression, women need education and economic capacities that will give them the freedom to live independently.”
Bekalu is looking forward to the future political development under the guidance of the newly elected Prime Minister as well as President of Ethiopia who brought women further in the political decision processes. He wishes particularly that the role of leadership should be given more to women because he strongly believes that “the nature gave the art of leadership and management to women”. Also, through PROJECT-E he experiences female leadership by our Management and Country Representative which impresses him very much. Working at PE and “seeing the improvement of the students from the poorest of the society to empowered, educated, open-minded young professionals” is what keeps him motivated. “And their improvements cannot be measured in money but in their personal development, gain in self-confidence and general empowerment as leading women”, Bekalu states.
On behalf of PE, he wants to invite everyone out there to not only support the project financially but also with personal support by sharing knowledge or any other resource at hand with voluntary work. In particular, he would love to see a stronger awareness in the Ethiopian society for voluntary activities and would like to encourage more supporters of the private and public stakeholders as well as the local community to reach out to PE. Bekalu’s vision as the Academic Coordinator is “to see our institute grow into a college. If we all work together, we can expand the number of beneficiaries and make PE to the best hospitality institute in Addis. I hope within a short period of time this dream will come to reality.”
We are very glad to have Bekalu as an asset of PROJECT-E – a team member who strongly stands behind the values of the project and inhabits such a strong vision and energy for a flourishing future!
Interviewed and written by Mera Dellin