Yeshimebeth T Belay
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|Yeshimebeth T Belay|
July 4, 1962 |
Jigjiga, Harare, Ethiopia
|Known for||Ethiopian Yellow Pages|
Yeshimebeth T Belay (born 1962) is an Ethiopian American entrepreneur. She founded the business directory Ethiopian Yellow Pages in Washington DC in 1993, started an Amharic newspaper and a restaurant, and has led economic regeneration initiatives in the Shaw Howard area of Washington.
Yeshimebet T Belay was born in the year 1962 to her father Mr. Tesfaye wondemagegnehu and to her mother Mrs. Lakech Beyene in the eastern city of Jijiga. She was the fourth of eight children born to a mother who hails from Ethiopian royalty and a father who was a provincial governor in southeastern Ethiopia in the Horn of Africa. Her father Mr. Tesfaye was a well-respected lawyer and later on provincial governor of the region.
Academic and professional career
Yeshimebeth attended elementary and secondary education at Notre dame school in the town of Dire Dawa. She travelled to the United States to join the Southern University at Baton Rouge. Despite her father’s wish for her to become a doctor, she studied marketing and business. While in college, Yeshimebeth worked odd jobs to cover her expenses. After college she moved to the Washington DC metropolitan area, where there are many Ethiopians and Ethiopian businesses.
Through her observation, Yeshimebeth realized that the Ethiopian community in Washington lacked sources of information. She undertook research to identify this community's information needs, and this led to the idea for a business directory, given the name Ethiopian Yellow Pages.
Yeshimebeth Belay completed her master's degree in Business Administration in 2008, specializing in the field of marketing, from Strayer University in Alexandria, Virginia.
With her husband Yehunie Belay, Yeshimebeth has two children, Feker and Selam.
Ethiopian Yellow Pages
Yeshimebeth Belay is founder and president of the company Feker Inc., publishers of Ethiopian Yellow Pages.
Ethiopian Yellow Pages was officially launched in 1993. The first edition contained 80 pages. The directory has since been made accessible through the internet. Washington DC Council declared September 15, 2007 to be “Ethiopian Yellow Pages Day” in the District of Columbia. The directory was described by the Washington Post in June 2011 as an "Immigrant’s Directory ... an all-purpose tool for cultural acclimation."
Local economic regeneration
Yeshimebeth has served (2011–2012; 2013–2014) as a board member of the Shaw Main Streets organization, a network aiming to revitalize commercial life in the Shaw Howard area of Washington. It is a 501(c)(3) organization operating a local program of the DC Main Streets program, funded in part by the D.C. Department of Small and Local Business Development.
Yeshimebeth is also a founding and active member of the 9th and U-street business association.
Yeshimebeth Belay is also founder and president of The Ethiopian Expo, a non-profit organization engaged in promoting a strong relationship between the Ethiopian community and various organizations. Since its inception in 2000 with Mrs. Yeshimebeth’s leadership, the Ethiopian Expo has been undertaking and promoting community based social and cultural events.
Yeshimebeth Belay is also founder and publisher of Bawza, an Amharic-English newspaper and online publication. Bawza ("a powerful beam of light") was launched in 2008 to inform the Ethiopian community about business, culture, music, art and family matters.
Little Ethiopia Restaurant
Yeshimebeth was also managing director and owner of Little Ethiopia Restaurant, in the Washington DC’s Show Howard historical area. She campaigned to have the 9th and U street block area be named as Little Ethiopia, in recognition that many Ethiopian businesses around the area were on the rise. This demand by Ethiopians to have the street name changed attracted media coverage from prominent news agencies such as Washington Post, CNN and BBC. Even though the request and demand to name the street as Little Ethiopia was declined, for many Ethiopians it is still unofficially called or nicknamed as “Little Ethiopia St.”"Mango & Tomato: Little Ethiopia in DC". mangotomato.com. Retrieved 2014-04-06. In addition, Yeshimebeth has worked with others to persuade the Washington DC council to accept and approve Amharic - the Ethiopian national language - as an official language in the District of Columbia.
Awards and recognitions
- On December 21, 2011, The Washington DC council through its council member Jim Graham Awarded Mrs. Yeshimebeth T Belay a recognitional prize in appreciation for her hard work and her extensive positive role she played as an Ethiopian community activist.
- Her business the Little Ethiopia Restaurant was rated highest by Talk of the Town News in 2011 for its Excellence in customers satisfaction above all other Ethiopian restaurants in the Washington DC metropolitan area. The ratings were calculated based on consumer-review websites and blogs, social networks, business rating services and other award information to determine the top companies across the country.
- Diasporas: A journal of Transitional studies Vol. 15 Number 2/3 Fall Winter 2006 Published Spring 2011 by the University of Toronto (ISSN 1044-2057) under its chapter titled "Vital information at your fingertips: The Ethiopian Yellow Pages as a Cultural Document" (page 247-263), written by Steven Kaplan, covered Ethiopian Yellow Pages.
- Woman of the Year award from women’s association of DC.
- Community Achievement Award in 2005.
- Mrs. Yeshimebeth T Belay’s Personal Achievements has been put forward as a role model example in a book titled “Making It in America: Conversations with Successful Ethiopian American Entrepreneurs” written by Mr. Peter Hagos published December 1, 2004. (ISBN 978-0970346353)
- Businesswoman of the Year Award 2004.
- In Addition, various letters of congratulations and recognitions, to the Ethiopian Yellow Pages & its founder/President Mrs. Yeshimebeth T Belay, has been received from (few among many) former Washington DC Mayor Adrian Fenty, Governor Timothy M. Kaine, Governor Martin O’Malley, Senator John Warner.
- "Ethiopian Yellow Pages". ethiopianyellowpages.com. Retrieved 2014-04-06.
- "Ethiopian Yellow Pages: Life, by the book - The Washington Post". washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2014-04-06.
- "Little Ethiopia Restaurant in Washington, DC review". washingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2014-04-06.
- Misty Showalter. "Inside Washington D.C.'s 'Little Ethiopia' - CNN.com". articles.cnn.com. Retrieved 2014-04-06.
- "Talk of the Town News - Rating Search". talkofthetownnews.com. Retrieved 2014-04-06.
- "Shaw Main Streets | Board of Directors". shawmainstreets.org. Retrieved 2014-04-06.
- "Little Ethiopia (Ethiopian) - Washington City Paper". washingtoncitypaper.com. Retrieved 2014-04-06.
- "Gastronomer's Guide: A Tour of Little Ethiopia in Washington, DC". gastronomersguide.com. Retrieved 2014-04-06.
- "Ethiopian News > Print > Ethiopian Yellow Pages: Life, by the book". Archived from the original on 2012-02-06. Retrieved 2014-04-06.
- "Ethiopian Woman Connects Her Community | American Observer". Archived from the original on 2009-04-24. Retrieved 2014-04-06.