“When financial difficulties are combined with disempowerment, people don’t have the vision or the strength to say, ‘I’ll stay hungry before I sell myself.’ My job made me think of bringing the same model to my former university, because it changed my life. I want to empower students.”
Woyneab Habte '17 first attended university for two semesters in her home country of Ethiopia before coming to Mount Holyoke. At the university, she was shocked to find a widespread sex trade among her female classmates, who were struggling to pay for food, never mind school supplies. As an MHC student, Habte wanted to make a difference for them and with help from the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives, Lynk funding, and private donations, she raised $10,000 to start a business in Ethiopia. In the summer of 2015, she opened On-Her-Own, a copy shop on the campus of her former university. A social entrepreneurship project, the business provides jobs for women students so they can pay their education without having to resort to desperate measures.