Category: Alumni News, Alumni Spotlights, News

Title: Kiersten DeHaven, GHD ’19, Wins First Place at Georgetown Entrepreneurship Challenge

On April 8, 2019, GHD Student Kiersten DeHaven (’19) competed in the Entrepreneurship Challenge to pitch Kidame Mart, the social enterprise she interned for over the summer and the organization she has partnered with for her Capstone presentation. Kiersten won First Place in the challenge and the Student Choice Award, which totaled $20,000 in winnings for Kidame Mart.

Georgetown Entrepreneurship Challenge - Kiersten Dehaven
Kiersten dehaven during the pitch challenge

It was thrilling to pitch Kidame Mart – to have the opportunity to spread the impactful work the social enterprise is doing in Ethiopia was an honor. In addition, it was a great opportunity to receive feedback from judges and learn from other competitors. To receive this award is very encouraging, as Kidame Mart has been recognized for having a viable business model from industry experts.” – Kiersten DeHaven (GHD ’19)
How will Kidame Mart will use the award?
Ethiopia hosts more than 900,000 registered refugees and asylum seekers and is the second largest refugee-hosting country in Africa. In March, Ethiopia passed legislation giving refugees formal status in order to enter the labor market. Kidame Mart has been in contact with the World Bank Ethiopia Economic Opportunities Program as they are working to increase employment opportunities especially for vulnerable refugees, such as uneducated women. As a paid for performance operated program, Kidame Mart looks forward to utilizing the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Challenge prize money to scale up operations in refugee camps. Kidame Mart currently works in four regions (Wilkete, Jimma, Mekele and Asela) where several refugee camps exist. Secondary to the strong market penetration in these regions, Kidame is confident they will successfully recruit, train and engage 300 female entrepreneurs by the end of 2019.

Georgetown Entrepreneurship Challenge Winner Kiersten Dehaven
Georgetown Entrepreneurship Challenge Winner Kiersten Dehaven

How did the relationship start between Kiersten and Kidame Mart?
Shani Senbetta, founder and CEO, is a School of Foreign Service graduate who attended the 2018 GU Africa Business Conference. At the conference, Professor Holly Wise invited Shani to speak to the Global Social Enterprise and Innovation class. After hearing Shani speak about Kidame Mart, Kiersten immediately wanted to spend my summer internship working for the social enterprise. The summer internship was an incredible experience especially as she was able to intern with fellow classmate, Danielle Fiorino. They extended our work with Kidame Mart as they became our capstone client. After working with Kidame Mart for almost a year, Kiersten says it has been a privilege to see the enterprise grow and witness the impact they are having on rural Ethiopian women and their communities and she can’t wait to continue to witness this growth and be apart of Kidame Mart’s development.
What does the award mean to Founder and CEO Shani Senbetta?
Shani was so excited when she heard the news. She further commented, “It’s the very first award for Kidame Mart and it’s so meaningful, as a Hoya, to have this recognition and support from an institution I love and I believe contributed greatly to preparing me for my career.”
“I’m also so grateful to Georgetown and the GHD program for providing the opportunity for me to meet Kiersten DeHaven, Danielle Fiorino, and Professor Holly Wise. The work they did for Kidame Mart during their summer internship and capstone project was a hugely significant contribution to our organization. It’s heartwarming to see how much they have embraced Kidame Mart and for me to be reconnected to Georgetown in this beautiful way through them.” – Shani Senbetta
Congratulations to Kiersten, Shani, and Kidame Mart!