«Have a vision»
It’s been two years that Elias Yirdaw (26) participated at the YEEP-week at the university of Hawassa with his idea of a mobile shower. Nowadays the former student of the university of Hawassa is the head of Faris, a kind of evening school for children from fourth grade and older interested in science.
You presented the project of a mobile shower for the YEEP-week 2017. How did you get this idea as a student?
I had done some research and found out that 3.6 million people die per year due to poor waterquality in Ethiopia. My shower would have been capable of recycling water.
Only two years after YEEP you are an uprising young entrepreneur – but not with your shower-idea. What happened?
I did a lot of networking already before the YEEP-week and I took part in many international competitions. As a child I already was very fascinated about space. Then I took a picture of the landing on the moon and I switched the American with the Ethiopian flag in photoshop. Today I am not an astronaut, but I have the potential to inspire others. I want the children to strive for big dreams, not for themselves or Ethiopia, but for Africa.
So you founded a school?
Yes. Faris I the first evening school in Ethiopia, where children from fourth grade on can look into science, technology, engineering and mathematics. I want to promote their creativity and strengths in solution finding. We have already over 300 students.
How much does this school have to do with YEEP? Your shower-idea seems to have been a success?
Well, on one side i don’t only want to run Faris, but I have also five, six products in mind, which I want to produce at the right time.
On the other side it is evident that I learned with YEEP how to start a business, how to develop an idea and even more important I learned about teamwork and teamspirit. Before YEEP I always wanted to do everything on my own. Now I know that I can get much further with a team. YEEP was a great experience, even when I finished off second last. Then I was very sad. But YEEP was one form of capital for me for Faris.
Where did you get the financial capital from for Faris?
I started with about 50 000 Birr, about 1800 CHF. Half of the amount I got from my brother, the other half I got from an innovation competition.
What was the biggest challenge for you as a young entrepreneur when you founded Faris?
The most challenging was to convince the government about my project in order to get my licence. They were not sure my concept would work. Maybe the reason for this was the usual school curriculum in Ethiopia where there is a shortage of practical education. That is the reason why I want to collaborate with the government and alter the school system in these aspects. Ethiopian pupils and students need more practical experiences. I needed to fight for four months to get the licence.
Do you have to come from a privileged family or would your success be possible for anyone?
I have a great family with five brothers and three sisters. A part of my family lives in the U.S. The many interviews I was able to give when I took part in all these competitions surely helped with my success. And I have a vision: Ethiopia in space.
Where is your project now?
We want to open up new facilities, work with the government and different institutions and universities. We are 15 employees.
And what kind of advice to you have to the future YEEP-participants?
An idea can change your entire life. A life for the community. Like for example Facebook. Have a vision.
Further infos on Faris: www.fiseet.org