PRIVATE SECTOR CELEBRATES ETHIOPIAN STARTUP ECOSYSTEM FESTIVAL
Startups, experienced entrepreneurs, incubators, accelerators and investors celebrated the Ethiopian Startup Ecosystem Festival on 24-25 Nov, 2023. For two days, a GFA team responsible for the Private SectorDevelopment in Ethiopia (PSD-E) project on behalf of GIZ brought together organizations that run incubators, including universities running incubators, and other startup support organisations like NGOs and individuals and institutional financiers. The team hosted the event in partnership with BIC ETHIOPIA at the spectacular venue of the African Mosaique's Design Center and Manufacturing Hub, a beneficiary of the PSD-E project.
The PSD-E project started in 2022 and ever since GFA experts together with their Ethiopian partners have been working with incubators across the country as well as investors and other organizations that support startups. Stakeholders have learned a lot through capacity-building training workshops, individual coaching sessions, and outreach events, which will be continued into 2024. The often fledgling actors have been strengthened in their competencies to develop sustainable and future-oriented organizational and business models and enable them to develop demand-driven service offerings.
The Ethiopian Startup Ecosystem Festival was a rare moment to bring these learnings together, reflect on them, and discuss them with the people and organizations that are creating the next phase of startup projects. In order to prompt people's creativity and energy to identify untapped opportunities, it was important not to make this a stereotypical conference. Therefore, the first day was dedicated to the beneficiaries of the PSD-E and BIC ETHIOPIA programs and included keynote speeches from experts, startup stories, breakout groups, short energizing exercises. All of these elements were designed to unlock different ways of learning about improved legal frameworks and services, and remind participants of all the different capacities necessary for a thriving startup ecosystem in Ethiopia. Based on this inspiring information, participants came away with recommendations for day two.
The second day of the event featured guests from organizations that fund programs and startups, government officials, as well as the return of all of the guests from Day 1. After a morning focused on keynote speeches and delivering messages on lessons learned, the afternoon highlighted a change of pace and space. Talented startups from the PSD-E and BIC ETHIOPIA programs opened a startup exhibition followed by a fashion show. Embedded in the exceptionally beautiful and innovative hosting expertise of the African Mosaique, Ethiopian designers from the textile industry showed off their talent – not only as a very important part of the economy but also of the country’s deep cultural heritage.