“I believe all of our work will be able to help create decent jobs for many Ethiopians/Africans without them having to move from place to place. And innovative professionals are the heartbeat of Change and economic equality.”

Rachel Boon, Founder of R&D Entrepreneurship and Outsourcing Center plc, Ethiopia

Rachel Boon, 2022 WE Empower Finalist, Sub-Saharan Africa

Rachel Boon was born in Ethiopia and fled to the Netherlands at a young age. After her years of studying and her return to Ethiopia, she found that the country was in a larger state of poverty than she had imagined it would be. The social enterprise of R&D came about to fuel the development of skills in young entrepreneurs and professionals to create “purpose-driven leaders”. The goals of this organization circle around making decent work and opportunities for people in Ethiopia to further the efforts of sustainability and pursue UN SDG 4: Quality Education, UN SDG 5: Gender Equality, and UN SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth.

Quality Education

Inclusive and accessible job opportunities, primarily for the youth in Ethiopia, was the main idea in mind with the creation of R&D. The company then developed a partnership with St. Mary’s University to offer remote IT jobs to the students, part-time for undergrads and full-time jobs for graduates. This led to creating soft skill training programs as well so that students had a well-rounded education. These programs made sure they had a better chance of seamlessly merging into the workforce and having opportunities to receive higher-paying jobs. So far over 6000 professionals have been trained and positions have been created for over 500 university students. 

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Gender Equality

Noticing the difficulties that women face in the workforce to find equitable opportunities for jobs, R&D shifted their attention from IT to women-owned businesses due to an issue with IT being a very male-dominated field. Along with this alliance to improve gender equality, the student sponsorship program provides the finances to the mother of the household instead of the father. 

Decent Work and Economic Growth

The above two SDGs go hand in hand with the promotion of SDG 8. Fighting inequality and providing proper education and training programs to students create decent work and inspire economic change. When countries reside in states of poverty, as Boon noticed Ethiopia did, it is important to focus on developing education in the younger generations. R&D strives to improve the overall economic state by reinventing the workforce and establishing a new form of accessibility.  

“I believe that women are the foundation of our society and I owe it to my four beautiful daughters to contribute to a women-inclusive ‘world’ so that they do not look for a SMALL window of opportunity but get equal opportunity to become the best version of themselves.”

Rachel Boon, Founder of R&D Entrepreneurship and Outsourcing Center plc, Ethiopia
rachel boon

The WE Empower UN SDG Challenge is a first-of-its-kind global competition for women entrepreneurs who are pushing the UN Sustainable Development Goals and leading innovation in sustainability and climate change through their businesses. This Contributing Series highlights finalists of the Challenge whose work demonstrates how business models and social entrepreneurship can drive global impact.