BY BACHA ZEWDIE
To run life in Ethiopia in the way one is interested, without choosing the type of work and putting distinction among the jobs’ status; there are many heroes who work day and night to achieve their vision. Combining labor and knowledge with limited financial resources, they are reaping the fruits of their labors.
The way these heroes walk that includes carrying stones on their shoulders, operating on heavy machineries and struggling with iron and wood, aiming to change themselves and their country is not a stable and a bed of roses. Limitations in support for success, in particular, force them to give in. It has been said many times that even if they get support, their lack of sustainability will reduce their ability to create jobs and wealth for others.
Different countries, which recognize the entrepreneurs for their hard work and dedication, provide a variety of support and create opportunities, focusing on equipping them to overcome obstacles. Although not enough, in Ethiopia, training, loans and financial support, which are crucial to the growth of entrepreneurs, have been provided.
However, in particular, support in the past has been largely dependent on the government, which has not allowed the entrepreneurs to compete in the market on their own. At present, however, in addition to government support and monitoring efforts, the contribution of third parties or stakeholders has improved.
For instance, the Entrepreneurship Development Center -Ethiopia is one of the centers that are currently working in Ethiopia to support entrepreneurs and not only to create jobs but also make them stay in the business.
Entrepreneurship Development Center – Ethiopia is a semi-state-owned Entrepreneurship Development Program Structure project established by the Ministry of Urban Development and Construction and the United Nations Development Program.
Since its inception in February 2013, the center has been providing training and consulting services to small and medium enterprises, as well as high-growth enterprises that are motivated to create jobs and resources.
It aims to create and enrich a large number of hardworking and successful Ethiopian entrepreneurs by developing best practices in entrepreneurship and promoting the growth of micro, small and medium enterprises in the country. It focuses primarily on entrepreneurship training, institution building, business development, business market linkages and financial facilitation.
One of the tasks of the center is to organize competitions that take into account the facilitation and strengthening of the financial supply. For the first time, it has partnered with the Universities of California and Washington to hold a special event called “EthioSpur Business Growth Competition.”
The winners of the 2020/21 competition, which aimed to reward and support Ethiopian entrepreneurs who want to grow existing businesses, were announced recently. The final five winners have been selected from among the contestants.
The winners of the competition held at the Hilton Hotel received a total of 840,000 Birr. The first winner won 300,000 Birr, the second 220,000 Birr and the third 140,000 Birr. The fourth and the fifth were awarded 100,000 Birr and 80,000 Birr respectively.
The five entrepreneurs were selected from more than 900 applicants from Addis Ababa and the regions. The application period lasted for three months in which 44 percent of the total contestants were women.
The process of notifying the winners of the competition took a long time due to the large number of participants, the risk of COVID pandemic, repeated evaluations and verification of the top 20 winners.
More than 100 judges from various banks and microfinance institutions were included in the evaluation process. A business development plan had the opportunity to be evaluated by 6 judges. In addition, the evaluation was carried out only on the basis of clear criteria for the identification of applicants without using their identities and the names of their businesses. “This has made the competition completely credible,” he said.
The winners are engaged in poultry, hotel and tourism, leather products, wood and metal processing and bread production, four of which are from Addis Ababa and the rest from Oromia, Holeta. In terms of gender, a female entrepreneur came third in the competition and awarded.
The leading winner of the competition was Andualem Yadesa, owner of Hawi Gudina SC. After graduating from university, Andualem said that he chose to use his personal efforts instead of waiting for the government to give him a job.
“I will never run out of exploring options to develop and make the organization effective,” Andualem said. He also said that the training provided by the Entrepreneurship Development Center in Ethiopia has enabled him to grow his businesses.
Noting that such competitions not only create jobs but also make them more sustainable, Andualem emphasized, on top of realizing goals that are not achieved due to lack of funds, they create a huge potential for enhancing competitiveness.
He will continue to work to make his vision a reality, investing the money he earned from the competition. Andualem added that he plans to create a job for 150 people by building a flour mill on 5,000 square meters of land he received from the government. There is no doubt that this initiative will succeed.
The second winner of the competition was Abdulfetah Temam, the founder and manager of ATA Hotel and Tourism Institute. Abdulfetah also said that the result he achieved in the competition will motivate him create better work and adding that the organization aims to produce trained professionals in the sector. He also plans to increase the number of students he admits each year by building his own college.
Hirut Zeleke, founder and owner of Shirshir Ethiopia Leather Products, won the third place in the competition and awarded 140,000 Birr. Her company, which has created jobs for more than 40 employees, produces handbags, shoes, jackets and skirts for domestic and foreign markets.
Despite her efforts to expand her business, Hirut recalls that lack of funding has remained as a bottleneck to meet her dreams. Having won the competition, she no doubt has the potential to change the course of her history, she asserted.
“Winning competitions like this is more than just money, it gives entrepreneurs a higher level of morale and motivates them to work harder,” Hirut said. She plans to expand her business and market access to the center with new machines and additional staff in the working shed she received from the government.
Hirut emphasized that similar competitions should be encouraged and sustained, as they contribute significantly to supporting the less fortunate. She went on to say that although entrepreneurship is hard and everything is not a bed of roses, it is necessary to fight hard and develop the experience of sniffing out competitive opportunities.
Entrepreneurship Development Center -Ethiopian CEO Dr. Hassan Hussein also agrees that there is no knowledge of how to establish and sustain business in Ethiopia. For many, once they started a business, they will face a variety of challenges, including administrative problems, financial management and usage gaps as well as sustaining growth and limited access to business.
Emphasizing that it is impossible to be successful as an individual or as a country unless such challenges are addressed, the CEO said that the center is undertaking various activities to fill the gaps in attitudes and knowledge in the business environment and to provide financial support.
According to the CEO, the center is working to build the capacity of public and private institutions to create jobs. Besides, it provides attitude-oriented and skills-oriented training for the unemployed and those who have difficulty finding success and planning for a new job. It also provides training to support university teachers in the way they encourage technical and vocational trainers to follow a direction that motivates entrepreneurship.
The CEO further said that this has made it possible for many to run their businesses with skill and knowledge. In particular, he explained that the idea that seeking a job from government should not be a major dream. Instead, it is viable to explore new directions that lead to a real change in attitudes toward other alternatives and the realization of wealth creation through private employment.
“Even though it has been seven years since its inception, the center has problems with its organization. After all, it is not allowed to generate its wealth,” Dr. Hassan said. He noted that while there is work to be done in collaboration with various international organizations working on entrepreneurship and business knowledge, the limited resources available are a major impediment to the center’s ability to expand its reach and make it accessible to many.
The Director General of the Federal Micro and Small Enterprises Development Agency, Gebremeskel Chala, for his part said the center was set up to improve the working culture in Ethiopia and to enable citizens to be creative, not job seekers, non selective, rather strive to expanding their jobs once they started and making sustainable.
He said the training provided by the center is unique in that it allows citizens to get a job, create jobs and be profitable understanding the nature of job creation even if they do not have the money. He noted that better business advice is available than any other institution and that it includes qualified professionals.
He emphasized that the center has benefited many in the past years and will continue to do so. Citizens should take advantage of the center’s services and realize that they can take advantage of opportunities.
Entrepreneurship Development Center: Ethiopia has agreed to use the achievements and experiences of this competition in collaboration with the Universities of California and Washington to host the second EthioSpur Business Development Plan competition at the national level, it was learned.
The Ethiopian Herald June 25/2021