Finnish Refugee Council’s training programme made Eshtaq an official entrepreneur and brought her closer to her dreams

Kuva Suomen Pakolaisavun toiminnasta Ugandassa. Kuvassa henkilö kirjoittaa paperille.

Eshtaq Abdulrahman, who fled to Ethiopia, received a residence and work permit after studying in Refugee Council’s graphic design training programme.

Eshtaq Abdulrahman, 31, is originally from Yemen, but was forced to flee to Ethiopia with her siblings and mother because of the war. They were forced to leave behind their home, their possessions and their entire lives in Yemen.    

“We were forced to abandon everything we had worked on for years. It was incredibly difficult, but we felt that Ethiopia was the safest option for refugees from Yemen at the time,” says Eshtaq.  

Yemen’s civil war has been going on for years and has driven the country into a serious humanitarian crisis.   

Today, Eshtaq and her family live in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital. In addition to her spouse, the family includes a daughter and son born in Ethiopia.  

When Eshtaq arrived as a refugee in Ethiopia, she was warmly welcomed by people who offered her food, a roof over her head and a job.  

“I was lucky to be able to work as a secretary for two organizations.”  

The Finnish Refugee Council’s training programme was a stepping stone to becoming a formal entrepreneur  

Eshtaq studied programming in her homeland in Yemen but was forced to interrupt her studies because of the war. After living in Ethiopia for a few years, Eshtaq had the desire to start her own business. Her refugee status made it difficult to set up a formal business, so she started selling her baked goods from her home.   

One day, however, she saw an advertisement for a training programme run by Finnish Refugee Council and decided to enroll immediately. The training programme offered Eshtaq the opportunity to study graphic design and thus broaden her skills.   

“It helped me to see other dimensions of computer science and broaden my knowledge. I realised that I could turn my skills into income. The training gave me both valuable skills and restored my confidence in my abilities. My career is now defined by my work in graphic design.”  

After participating in the FRC programme, she obtained a residence and work permit in Ethiopia.   

“This helps me to exercise my rights on an equal footing with other citizens and to run my business legally,” says Eshtaq.  

Eshtaq dreams of opening her own shop  

Eshtaq still runs a bakery business, but she also designs brochures, business cards and other materials for other small entrepreneurs from Yemen. She works from home so she can look after her children at the same time.   

Eshtaq already has plans for the future of the business. She dreams of opening her own shop.  

“Now that I have finally received my work permit, I am excited and optimistic about opening a small retail shop and expanding my business,” says Eshtaq.  

Eshtaq now lives a meaningful life in Ethiopia with her husband and young children.   

“I have a bright future here in Ethiopia. I am grateful for the opportunity to develop my skills and interests. Most importantly, I can support my family with work that is meaningful to me.”   

Read more about our work in Ethiopia on our website: Ethiopia – Finnish Refugee Council