Skip to main content

Defying the odds: a female pioneer in Ethiopia's heavy-duty truck sector

04 March 2024 UNIDO

MISALE Ethiopia Story

Mekdes Tesfaye, 24, fearlessly defied societal norms by pursuing a career as a heavy commercial vehicle driving instructor, a field traditionally dominated by men and discouraged for women in Ethiopia.   

Hailing from the rural outskirts of Jinka, 585 km from the capital city of Addis Ababa, Tesfaye never let the distance stop her from pursuing her dream career. She earned diplomas in Automotive Electrical Service from Jinka Technical & Vocational School, pursued further studies for advanced qualifications in Shashemene, and finally obtained a driver's trainer license in Adama, demonstrating her unyielding resolve. 

Distance was not the only obstacle preventing Tesfaye from achieving her dream. In addition to being an automotive driving instructor in Gelan, her strong desire for more knowledge led her to the Misale Driver Training Academy. At a young age, Tesfaye had to make the crucial decision of staying in her current job or pursuing her dream. Motivated by ambition, Tesfaye chose the latter and commenced her journey with Misale Academy. 


The Training Institute for Commercial Vehicle Drivers in Ethiopia, a Private Public Development Partnership project, aims to address Ethiopia's rising need for skilled drivers due to its growing economy and demand for efficient transportation, given the country's dependence on road transport. With strategic collaboration between UNIDO, Sida, Volvo Group, Selam Children's Village (SCV), and the Ministry of Transport and Logistics, the project has established a state-of-the-art training academy in Addis Ababa. 

The initiative sought to empower Ethiopian youth, focusing on both genders, in the commercial driving sector. Tesfaye's experience exemplifies the tangible effects of this programme. As a certified driver trainer, she is proof of the initiative's success. Her story also reflects the broader victory: the comprehensive efforts of the initiative have impacted over 13,600 drivers, trained female bus drivers, and re-certified thousands whose licenses were previously suspended. Moreover, it has resulted in the training academy achieving financial sustainability and significantly reducing road accidents.

"After training with UNIDO's Misale, I managed to pursue the career that I love the most, with a better salary and better working conditions. UNIDO's Misale Driver Training Academy made my dream come true, " Tesfaye emphasizes.   

Mekdes Tesfaye's story showcases her determination, resilience and the transformative power of quality education and support in revolutionizing a sector. As she progresses in her career, she inspires both women and men, underscoring the notion that with determination, passion, and proper support, the roads to success can be paved for all. 

Project name: Training Institute for Commercial Vehicles Drivers in Ethiopia: A Private-Public Partnership Project to Support Skills Development.