Tigabu’s Addis Ababa-based production company, Whiz Kids Workshop, produces children’s TV shows that promote early education, literacy, health education, and gender equality. Among them: Tsehai Loves Learning, Ethiopia’s first educational TV preschool program; Little Investigators, the country’s first kid-oriented science show; and the recently launched animated series Tibeb Girls.
Tigabu, raised in poverty, had no intention of becoming something of a media magnate. But after three years as an elementary school teacher, Tigabu realized that she needed a bigger venue to address widespread illiteracy and hygiene issues, as well as the mortality rate—over 300,000 Ethiopian children under the age of five die every year, most from malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia, measles, and malnutrition.
“Free education here is only offered to children once they turn seven,’’ says Tigabu, 35, a Rolex Laureate. “Very few people can afford to send their kids to private school, so it’s the vacuum of these early years that we …