Launching blueMoon, a youth agribusiness startup incubation platform two years ago, the economist turned entrepreneur, Eleni Gabre-Madhin (PhD) has organized her debut event "Startup Ethiopia" which has attracted some 3,000 visitors last week, and managed to secured commitments both from the government and investors alike.
Eleni told The Reporter that 'Startup Ethiopia' at its launch has succeeded in attracting 11 top business chief executives from major international funds and tech companies. The startup ecosystem which is in the making in Ethiopia has been received well by the government. The Ministry of Innovation and Technology (MInT) and Job Creation Commission have alluded to the creation of conducive environment for startups.
Getahun Mekuria (PhD), Minister of Innovation and Technology, stated that, "We will totally change the connectivity we have in Ethiopia in the coming four months, and that will totally change the picture for startups."
Ephrem Lemango, Commissioner of Job Creation Commission also stated that establishing a startup ecosystem is the prerequisite to creating millions of jobs in Ethiopia.
Jake Bright, a contributing writer to TechCrunch - a US based online publisher focusing on tech industry - and a guest speakers, noted that Ethiopia needs to have a reliable connectivity which he likened to needing water and called on the creation of a venture capital as food for startups to survive.
The two day startup event held last weekend during the sideline of "Innovate Ethiopia," an annual tech expo and conference, has been generous to bestow an ETB one million award for two young innovators who created a coffee dryer machine to mitigate the quality challenges that sun dried coffees have been pressed with.
Egzieryalew Ayele and Anduamlak Mehariw, mechanical engineering graduates of Addis Ababa University told The Reporter that it took them five years to finalize their graduation project. Cofounding Green Bean Manufacturing Share Company, by the coming September, both are set to deliver 10 machines preordered by customers. Additionally, ten more finalists have already mate with potential angel investors.
The first angle investors' network dubbed: Addis Ababa Angel Investors Network has officially joined the startup platform. Shem Asefaw, a co-investor with blueMoon and Hybrids Designs PLC, which runs a taxi booking and hailing service - Ride, told The Reporter that the angle investor's network has attracted seven likeminded personalities. Shem is a returnee from Canada after years of corporate partnership business in which he was able to create companies from scratch worth USD 50 million.
He said that 30 will join the network soon. Accordingly, Henock Assefa, founder and managing partner of Precise Consult International (PCI) and Amha Bekele, lead IT Risk and Assurance (ITRA) for East Africa and Earnest and Young, are some of the bigwigs of the Addis Ababa Angel Investors' Network funding members.
To further increase the capacity of emerging startups and talents in Ethiopia, Eleni and the MInT are contemplating to establish a startup fund. By her estimates, the fund will likely come in the form of seed money with initial offers of USD 50 million, a contribution from the government as seed investment.