Nigest Haile

Nigest Haile


Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Accelerated Women's Economic Empowerment (CAWEE)

Sub-Saharan Africa

Mrs. Nigest is an activist in the promotion of women entrepreneurs, with particular focus to women exporters, both existing and potential/emerging exporters. She has 23 years experience working in the Ethiopian Ministry of Trade and Industry, at different capacities, where in the last 13 years of her position as Head of the Women's Affairs Department in the Ministry, she was able to work on proposing policy ideas and recommendations for the creation of a conducive and women entrepreneurs friendly business environment.

In 2004, she founded the Center for Accelerated Women's Economic Empowerment (CAWEE), non-profit organization, providing capacity building support service targeting women exporters.

Nigest received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology (major) and Sociology (minor) from the Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia and her Post Graduate Diploma in Globalization and Development, from the Institute of Social Studies (ISS), The Hague, Netherlands. She also was able to get trained in women’s entrepreneurship development and other relevant areas of enterprise development and export promotion in different countries and has different diplomas and certificates. Nigest is actively involved in conducting different kinds of action oriented researches, focusing on women in business and recently was able to publish a book compiling the findings of five different researches on challenges affecting women in business.

Nigest received award from the Department of State, USA, in recognition of her extraordinary contributions to the development of women-led businesses, she was also selected by The International Alliance for Women (TIAW), Canada, as a TIAW Award Winner for the Year 2012, for all the great works she does to economically empower women. Nigest has also received a Pan-African Award in 2012, by the UN Women and ILO, in recognition of her participation and support of Women’s Entrepreneurship Development in the African continent. She was also the 2015 award winner of the AWiB (Association of Women in Business) Women of Excellence Award Event in Ethiopia.

Starting 2005 to 2013, Nigest served as the ACCESS! Country Focal Person. ACCESS! for African business Women in International Trade was a Regional program operating in 19 African counties, where the International Trade Center, Geneva was the executing agency.

Nigest is member of the of the Spanish-African Women Network, member of the COMESA (Common Market for Eastern & Southern Africa) Business Council, one of the promoters and founders of the first women's bank of Ethiopia named as "ENAT Bank", where this time she is also sitting in the board, AWEP(African Women Entrepreneurs Program) Ambassador to Ethiopia, an initiative of H. E. Hilary Clinton, that started in 2010 and advisory board member of the Global Economic Forum for Women in Africa, the 1st Forum starting in 2017 in Morocco.