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Zafree Papers: revolutionising the world through the paper industry.

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Bethelhem Dejene Abebe is fighting to change the world. She wants to create a less toxic environment in which it would be easier to live. She has decided to bring about this change herself.

Although a novice in the world of entrepreneurship, she successfully set up her business: Zafree Papers.


Zafree Papers is a company based in Ethiopia that is committed to the fight against deforestation and makes pulp from agricultural waste without the use of trees. Its solution is therefore to Produce unbleached pulp that does not contain trees, i.e. that does not come from deforestation, but rather from crop residues. 

This is a very clever process because instead of wood to create pulp, the Zafree Papers process uses wheat and barley straw.


The resulting pulp is not only environmentally friendly, as it comes from an environmentally friendly production line, but is also non-toxic. It can be used to make all types of paper and other paper products.

This is the major project that Bethelhem Dejene Abebe has embarked on.


Zafree Papers: between challenges and obstacles


Although the project looked good, Bethelhem Dejene did not yet know how to manage Zafree Papers in such a way that the project would fit in perfectly with his convictions.


Bethelhem Dejene Abebe is young. She was lucky enough to study and go abroad. For many who dream of it, she has made a success of her life. But that is not what interests her. She has a high impact project with which she wants to change the world. And his challenge seems crazy: to revolutionise the world with paper.


How to change the world with a 100% tree free paper industry?


It seems improbable. Even more so when you imagine the world as we know it. How could paper make the world more 'liveable'?

The answer is simple: ecology.

According to the WHO, 92% of the population breathes polluted air. This is an alarming figure. Alarming enough that Bethelhem Dejene Abebe decided to change things. Starting with the environment in which he lives.


The beginning of a new adventure

The idea for Zafree Papers was born during a visit to the market.

Indeed, during her first year of study at Addis Ababa University, Bethelhem Dejene Abebe visited the Atkilt Tera market, the largest fruit and vegetable market in Ethiopia, with her mother.


Shocked by the amount of waste and the level of insanitary conditions in the market, she decided to fight to change things. Do everything possible to make a difference and develop an ecological project that is beneficial and profitable for everyone.


When Bethelhem Dejene Abebe tells the story of her beginnings with Zafree Papers, it is clear that the road has not been without obstacles. But with fierce determination and hard work, any dream can be built. And that is how Bethelhem Dejene Abebe built his.

Some key facts about Zafree Papers

Several of her attempts were unsuccessful before Zafree's fortunes took a new turn thanks to the entrepreneurship training workshop offered by the Ethiopian Entrepreneurship Development Centre.


Bethelhem Dejene Abebe is now learning about the world of entrepreneurship, and she has been working hard to raise the fruits of her efforts and to secure funding for the development of Zafree Papers.


In 2018, Zafree Papers was selected for the BlueMoonan incubation programme for startups in Ethiopia. Once the capital was provided by BlueMoon, Zafree Papers gained momentum.


In 2019, Bethelhem was selected for the Tony Elumelu Foundation's entrepreneurship programme, winning $5,000 and nine months of training and mentoring.


She was also awarded the Seedstars DOEN Land Restoration 10,000 in the same year.

When it comes to paper mills, massive deforestation is a common concern. For Zafree Papers, the aim is to revolutionise the paper industry by offering a 'green', environmentally friendly solution.


Its vision is to propel the production of quality ecological paper to an international level while helping farmers to further grow their business.

By 2023, Zafree's goal is to save 2,000,000 trees from being cut down!

All we have to do now is to keep a close eye on this objective and encourage them to do so.


What is the future of paper in an increasingly digital world?


The Internet has revolutionised many areas and has greatly contributed to the adoption of new habits and consumption patterns. The proximity to loved ones thousands of miles away, the possibility to shop from the comfort of one's couch... Everything is changing, but even more so the traditional systems are presented as outdated and the era is more digital than ever.


So will Zafree Papers be sustainable? This is a question that many people are asking.

But if digital seems to be an obstacle, it is not. When you look beyond the simple use of paper, you realise that the possibilities are endless.


People are becoming increasingly aware of the toxicity of plastic and it will be up to paper to replace many of its uses, particularly packaging.

Zafree Papers has a bright future ahead of it and we wish it nothing but the best.