Maheder Foods: A passion for quality food evolves into an award-winning company


Maheder Foods proudly provides clients with more than 20 different varieties of spice and pulse products. Its food processing plant amalgamates all production steps, including processing, packing, labelling and delivery. The firm works mainly to meet the high demand of its quality-conscious locally based customers that are attracted by the excellence of its products. Currently, almost all its products are available in large supermarkets and retail shops located in and around Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.

Maheder Food Processing PLC is one of 40 winning companies of the Ethiopian Competitiveness Facility (ECF). General Manager and owner, Mrs Maheder Admasu, has received more than 15 company awards and certificates of recognition and has participated in numerous international Trade Fairs. Through the support of Invest for Jobs of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), which is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH among others, she also participated at ANUGA in Cologne, Germany, the leading global trade fair for the food and beverage industry. With the expansion of business branches, additional staff was hired.


Please introduce yourself.

My name is Maheder Admasu, Founder and CEO of Maheder Foods. I have a background in marketing management and project management. Before starting Maheder Foods, I was running my own small printing business, while also studying. As I struggled to focus on school, business and family at the same time; I decided to prioritize my education and family. During my thesis internship at the African Union, I realized that a sedentary desk job was not for me and I started to follow my passion for food. I noticed that without maids, people did not eat “wot” (Ethiopian stew) because of the long preparation time required. This gave me the idea to start selling home-made wot in my neighbourhood. When I noticed an advertisement announcing a competition for people with new and innovative ideas everything kicked off!

Please give us a brief insight on how you have grown your company to make it what it is today.

I started out with a shed to conduct and promote my business, as a testing centre to attract customers. We sourced all our raw materials and prepared everything from scratch to maintain the freshness and quality of our food and products. Customers could see first-hand how we prepared our food products with care and to the highest standard. This worked well until I had to vacate the shed and it was difficult to secure another suitable location. Staff quit because the new shed was too far, and the space was insufficient. At this moment I was at a complete loss and knew I had to seek help. I met with Invest for Jobs and shared my vision of Maheder Foods. Since I already had the customer base, done previous research and had my innovative product with a few competitors, I would not need to start from scratch. I signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Invest for Jobs and was henceforth supported by their consultants of the firm sequa gGmbH. This was a turning point for me. I was able to access loans from the Development Bank of Ethiopia amounting to ETB 2.7 million enabling me to purchase necessary machinery and hire the employees I lost. This was the lifeline I needed! 

Can you highlight partners who have supported you in developing your company’s capacities?

Invest for Jobs helped connect me to the European market through trade fair. This taught me about the criteria for food processing certification such as Food Safety System Certification (FSCC) to start exporting goods to other countries with the necessary equipment. I also learned how to layout my production line to maximize productivity. With financial support of around EUR 10,000 (ETB 488,000 approximately) I purchased machinery and hired experienced consultants. They helped me manage my business better and instructed me on how to set up shop. They also provided my staff with necessary training on hygiene and finance. The support of Invest for Jobs came at just the right moment. When I restarted the business, I added delivery of foods to clients because we didn’t have a base of operations. After their intervention I was able to open two new shops. This growth is the result of the agreement and the support that Invest for Jobs offered me. Other partners such as the Centre for Accelerated Women's Economic Empowerment (CAWEE) provided me with a platform to promote my products. Another important collaborator was the Dutch company “Ethiopia Netherland trade for Agricultural Growth” (ENTAG) which supports farmers. We source raw materials grown by the farmers they work with. This benefitted both the farmers and us.

What societal impact does your company have?

My company is involved in numerous humanitarian projects including feeding the homeless, helping out with charities and using eco-friendly products such as biodegradable packaging. On holidays, we prepare up to 100 meals to donate to those in need. I was also able to secure a bid to feed up to 3,000 Ethiopian refugees per day. We prioritise working directly with local farmers to help them grow their business.

What lies ahead for your company?

  • To have my products sold all around the world and have brand recognition for their quality.
  • To open feeding centres across Ethiopia to help the less fortunate by providing excess perishable goods as part of a larger donation programme.
  • To use food waste to produce my own biogas.


About Invest for Jobs
Under the Invest for Jobs brand, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has put together a package of measures to support German, European and African companies in investment activities that have a high impact on employment in Africa.
The Special Initiative on Training and Job Creation – the official title – offers comprehensive advice, contacts and financial support to overcome investment barriers. The development objective is to team up with companies to create good jobs and training opportunities in the partner countries, of which there are currently eight, and to preserve them during the Covid-19 pandemic. The aim is also to improve local working conditions.
The Special Initiative is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and sequa gGmbH among others. For further information, click on the link to the Invest for Jobs website below. 



Author: Arabella Stewart
Photographer: ©GIZ/Digital Birhan
Publishing date: 20.01.2022